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Hastert Taps Portman as No. 2 on Budget

Rep. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) has been named vice chairman of the Budget Committee, potentially paving the way for him to take over the gavel in 2006 or 2007.

Current Budget Chairman Jim Nussle (R-Iowa) is scheduled to surrender his post in the 110th Congress due to term limits. But Nussle is also exploring a bid for governor of the Hawkeye State next year, raising the possibility that he could give up the chairmanship before his term is over to focus on his campaign.

Portman’s selection for the Budget post by Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) reaffirms his close relationship with the House’s top Republican, who also has reappointed Portman to his position as chairman of the elected leadership.

“Mr. Portman is someone who, as a member of the Ways and Means Committee, already has a great knowledge of the budget,” said Hastert spokesman John Feehery. “He’s a very good team player and he’ll do an excellent job as the Speaker’s pick on the Budget Committee.”

Portman takes over the panel’s vice chairmanship from Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), whose six-year term on Budget is up and who did not help his standing on the panel by voting against the fiscal 2005 budget.

Shays will replace that assignment with a seat on the Homeland Security Committee.

Since the Budget roster for the 109th Congress has not been finalized, it is not clear where Portman will fall on the seniority list or how many other potential chairmanship hopefuls will be on the panel. While he has been mentioned before as a Budget gavel candidate, Portman is also thought to have eventual statewide intentions in Ohio.

“The Congressman is honored that Speaker Hastert appointed him to serve, and he looks forward to working with his colleagues to help craft a fiscally responsible budget that funds America’s priorities while keeping spending under control,” said Portman spokesman Kyle Downey.

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