The Steering and Policy Committee delayed until Thursday hearing presentations from Reps. Elijah Cummings (Md.) and Carolyn Maloney (N.Y.) for the top Democratic slot on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, according to Democratic lawmakers.
The pair announced their intentions Tuesday evening to run for the ranking member position after current Chairman Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) made the surprising announcement that he was dropping out of the race. Maloney follows Towns in seniority among Democrats on the panel, with Cummings behind her.
“After much thought, Chairman Towns today made the decision not to seek the Ranking Member position on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee,” committee spokeswoman Jenny Rosenberg said in a statement Tuesday.
Towns has since thrown his support behind Maloney.
“I support Carolyn Maloney to become Ranking Member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee,” Towns said in a statement. “She is next in line on the Committee, she has the seniority and competence to serve the Caucus well.”
Maloney sent a letter promoting her bid to the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, which met Wednesday morning to decide which Members it will recommend for several ranking member positions.
“Since coming to Congress in 1993, I have been a member of OGR and have been a strong and vocal voice in defending the Census, reviewing government contracts, and ensuring general oversight over government agencies,” Maloney wrote. “I have a strong record of digging deep into the issues, asking tough questions, and fighting back.”
Maloney further cited her seniority on the committee and said she would be the first woman to serve as ranking member of the panel.
So far, there appears to be support from a variety of members on the steering panel.
Rep. Gwen Moore (Wis.) said she will be nominating Maloney for the slot. Rep. Marcy Kaptur is also backing Maloney. The Ohio Democrat said she is going with the seniority system and will speak on Maloney’s behalf.
Meanwhile, Rep. G.K. Butterfield (N.C.) said he is supporting Cummings. Butterfield said Tuesday night that it is important for a member of the Congressional Black Caucus to maintain the position and that Cummings has the right background to fight back against incoming Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).
“He’ll be able to stand formidably” against Issa, Butterfield said.
Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who are not members of the steering panel, are also backing Cummings.
Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) said he was still undecided.
If he is successful in obtaining the ranking member position on the panel, Cummings said he would make sure that Issa does not go on “fishing expeditions” to try to embarrass Democrats.
“We’ll go toe to toe on everything and hopefully be 10 steps ahead,” he said.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), who ranks behind Cummings on the panel, had previously announced his intention to challenge Towns for the post, but he announced on Tuesday that he is supporting Cummings.
“When I announced my candidacy for Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, I did so out of concern for a strong Democratic response [to] Chairman Issa,” Kucinich said in a statement. “Even before I announced my candidacy, I made it clear to members across the caucus that I thought that Congressman Cummings would be able to meet the challenge, and that if he was a candidate, I would support him.”