GOP Gains One Energy and Commerce Seat

Posted January 14, 2009 at 5:22pm

The House Republican Steering Committee will meet on Thursday to fill an additional seat on the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee.

Energy and Commerce ranking member Joe Barton (R-Texas) announced the one-seat gain on the panel in a release on Wednesday. The addition of the seat was discussed during an organizational meeting of the Energy and Commerce Committee, a source with knowledge of the conversation confirmed.

The addition of one GOP seat on the panel came as a result of negotiations between Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Boehner argued that Republicans were under-represented after the Democrats’ initial plan on committee ratios called for eliminating four GOP seats on Energy and Commerce.

“While we still have serious issues in terms of the overall committee ratios, this is certainly a step in the right direction,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said.

It was unclear which Republican would be selected to fill the open seat.

In a letter to Pelosi on Monday, Boehner expressed frustration about the widening disparities on the committees and asked the Speaker to reconsider her decision to limit the minority’s voice at the committee level.

“Madame Speaker, the dangers of one-party rule in Congress have been well documented over the past century, and as we confront historic challenges at home and abroad, at no time is it more important for vigorous debate and honest representation in the People’s House than right now,” Boehner warned.