Blunt Gives Up Energy For Hall

Posted January 28, 2004 at 6:04pm

The House Republican Steering Committee held a rare mid-session meeting Wednesday to deal with the aftermath of Rep. Ralph Hall’s (Texas) switch to the GOP and a handful of other issues.

To ensure that Hall would get a spot on the Energy and Commerce Committee, where he had been fourth on the Democratic seniority list, Majority Leader Roy Blunt (Mo.) took leave from the panel and gave his seat to Hall.

“Mr. Blunt just felt really strongly … that no Member who wants to join the Republican Party should be penalized,” said Blunt spokeswoman Burson Taylor.

Blunt’s move also allowed Rep. John Sullivan (Okla.) to join Energy and Commerce, taking the seat vacated by Rep. Ernie Fletcher, who was elected governor of Kentucky in November. Sullivan had been on the Energy and Commerce waiting list for more than three years and was narrowly beaten out for a slot at the beginning of the 108th Congress by Rep. Darrell Issa (Calif.).

Hall, who was also added to the Science Committee, could now be in line to take over the subcommittee on energy and air quality chaired by fellow Texas Rep. Joe Barton, who is expected to helm the full committee if Chairman Billy Tauzin (La.) leaves Congress to take a job on K Street. Tauzin sits on Steering and participated in Wednesday’s deliberations, but his own future was not discussed, according to sources who were present.

Rep. Sue Myrick (N.C.) was also added to Energy and Commerce and took leave from the panel. She will eventually take the North Carolina spot on the committee currently filled by Rep. Richard Burr, who is running for Senate.

Blunt, meanwhile, took the International Relations Committee seat vacated when South Dakota Rep. Bill Janklow resigned from the House earlier this month.

Speaker Dennis Hastert (Ill.) asked Steering to keep open Janklow’s seats on Agriculture and Government Reform — as well as a previous vacancy on Transportation and Infrastructure — so there would be space for new Members pending the results of special elections to replace Fletcher and Janklow.