Eleven House Republicans are pitching their colleagues for a seat at the GOP’s influential Steering Committee, which determines who gets what plum, or not so plum, committee assignments.
Elections are scheduled for Thursday to determine the six at-large members who will be installed on the committee, a situation set in motion when new Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., kept a promise to conservatives and changed the makeup of the panel, diluting some of leadership’s influence. The six lawmakers will only serve on the Steering Committee for the remainder of the 114th Congress, “placeholders” until leadership can reconsider the allocation of regional representatives on the board. The stated goal in reconfiguring the committee is to diversify the ranks for the 115th Congress, starting in 2017.
But a short tenure isn’t deterring the 11 candidates who made their cases to colleagues on Wednesday.
Here are the members vying for the available seats:
Rep. Susan W. Brooks , R-Ind. The sophomore lawmaker has quickly established herself as a leadership loyalist and team player whose profile was catapulted in 2014 when she was named to the Select Committee on Benghazi. Brooks is also the only woman running for an at-large seat.
Rep. Tom Cole , R-Okla. Cole had a seat on the Steering Committee in his capacity as a former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, but the shift in membership that took place in November called for him to forfeit his slot. Cole, a senior appropriator, is well-liked in the conference and looked upon by many colleagues as a voice of reason.
Rep. John Culberson , R-Texas. Texas has the largest Republican delegation by a long shot, but only two of their own, Reps. Pete Sessions and Lamar Smith, are on the panel. That doesn’t strike Lone Star State members as good enough to represent their 25-Republican strong crew. Culberson, an eight-term House member and appropriator, is one of their own and wields influence with Congress’ purse strings.
Rep. Tim Huelskamp , R-Kan. Huelskamp is one of four members of the House Freedom Caucus vying for a slot. A member of the 2010 class and key leadership agitator, he lost his prestige assignments for going against leadership one time too many. The HFC and other House conservatives want their own members represented, and Huelskamp is one of their own.
Rep. Darrell Issa , R-Calif. Because of term limits, Issa handed in his chairman’s gavel at Oversight and Government Reform in January. He expressed interest in the speakership before Ryan said he would run to replace John A. Boehner. A spot on Steering would keep him in an influential spot.
Rep. Steve Pearce , R-N.M. Another member of the Freedom Caucus, Pearce was part of the special working group to produce legislative solutions when the child migrant crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border came along in the summer of 2014.
Rep. Mike D. Rogers , R-Ala. Rogers came within a hair of beating Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, for chairman of the Homeland Security committee in 2012. If the Alabama lawmaker can tap those connections, it could be helpful for his bid.
Rep. David Schweikert , R-Ariz. The third member of the Freedom Caucus in the running, Schweikert keeps a lower profile than other conservatives but continues to push hard against leadership. He was among those who tried to defeat the procedural rule to bring up Trade Promotion Authority legislation.
Rep. Jason Smith , R-Mo. At just 35 years old, Smith is the youngest member running for a seat on Steering, something he could capitalize on at a time when the GOP wants to promote diverse voices within the conference.
Rep. Fred Upton , R-Mich. Upton, like Cole, formerly enjoyed a seat at the Steering panel table until the reconfiguration booted most committee chairmen. Conservatives who wanted a sea change in Steering Committee membership might not take kindly to a chairman trying to return to the fold, but Upton is term-limited as chairman of Energy and Commerce at the end of 2016, so his candidacy might look like less of a threat. Plus, Upton offers colleagues a chance to make sure the Steering Committee maintains important institutional knowledge.
Rep. Ted Yoho , R-Fla. The fourth HFC member in the running. The former large-animal veterinarian is a consistent ally of conservatives; he was one of 12 House Republicans to vote against Ryan for speaker.
Correction 4:49 p.m. A previous version of this article misstated Rep. Jason Smith’s age. He is 35 years old.
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