Bachus Keeps Panel Post, but Young Steps Down

Posted December 10, 2008 at 6:44pm

Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) held on to his ranking member position on the Financial Services Committee, and Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) stepped down from the top spot on the Natural Resources Committee following a meeting Wednesday of the House Republican Steering Committee.

The decision to allow Bachus to continue in his role came as a surprise to some Members, who assumed that Young and Bachus would be given walking papers. Bachus was targeted because of his performance during the debate over the $700 billion Wall Street bailout.

Bachus was not surprised by the outcome, telling reporters before the Steering Committee decision was announced to the full Republican Conference for ratification that “I have the full confidence of the Conference committee.”

Young was less inclined to chat with reporters following his departure from the Steering Committee gathering, telling reporters, “Everything is fine” as he strode down the hall toward his Rayburn office. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) met with Young on Tuesday and informed him that neither he nor the majority of the Steering Committee would support his bid.

Later in the day, Young was quiet as he entered the meeting of the House Republican Conference — holding hands with his wife, Lu — to announce that he would step down from his post as the ranking member of the committee.

“I ran for and won my 19th term as Alaska’s lone Representative this year, confident that the cloud that hangs over me will eventually clear as I know I have done nothing wrong,” Young told the Conference, according to a news release. “However, for the good of the Republican Party, the right thing for me to do is temporarily step down from my post as Ranking Member on the House Committee on Natural Resources while my name is cleared. … At that time, I look forward to regaining my post.”

At that Conference meeting, Boehner apologized for reports that he was not supporting Bachus’ return to the ranking slot.

“He’s my friend,” Boehner said. “And we’re going to work together to resolve what’s going on in the committee.”

Throughout the morning and early afternoon, Members filed in and out of Boehner’s second-floor Capitol office to give their presentations to the Steering Committee, which votes on committee positions in the Republican Conference. Reps. Dave Camp (Mich.) and Wally Herger (Calif.), both seeking the ranking member position on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, could be seen shaking hands and chatting in the Rayburn room until Camp was signaled to enter the Steering panel’s meeting.

Camp was later chosen to succeed retiring Rep. Jim McCrery (R-La.) as the Ways and Means ranking member, leapfrogging over Herger, who was more senior. Other newly elected Republican ranking members include Rep. Darrell Issa (Calif.) on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Frank Lucas (Okla.) on the Agriculture Committee, Rep. John McHugh (N.Y.) on the Armed Services Committee and Rep. Sam Graves (Mo.) on the Small Business Committee, according to a release from the House Republican Conference.

The release noted that the Republican Steering Committee would interview candidates to replace Young on Thursday and that Boehner would appoint Members to serve as the ranking members of the ethics and the House Administration committees “at a later date.”

Democrats, too, were huddling to hand out plum committee assignments. At press time, the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee had named five Members to the Ways and Means Committee: Reps. Danny Davis (Ill.), Bob Etheridge (N.C.), Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.), Brian Higgins (N.Y.) and John Yarmuth (Ky.). And the panel nominated Reps. Lincoln Davis (Tenn.) and John Salazar (Colo.) for seats on the Appropriations Committee.

A Democratic leadership aide said appointments to the Energy and Commerce Committee could be determined later Wednesday night, though Democrats would likely punt on filling Financial Services Committee slots.