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Guide to House committee chairs for 118th Congress

These Republicans are set to advance a conservative agenda and ramp up probes of the Biden administration

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, shown here on Jan. 3, will lead the House Judiciary Committee's push to pressure the Biden administration on immigration and other issues.
Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, shown here on Jan. 3, will lead the House Judiciary Committee's push to pressure the Biden administration on immigration and other issues. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House Republican Conference on Tuesday ratified a slate of standing committee chairs for the next two years, after the GOP steering committee recommended the final batch of nominees in several competitive races on Monday.

The remainder were uncontested races where the new chair simply migrated over from being the ranking member in the 117th Congress, and didn’t yet face term limits under House Republicans’ six-year rule for the top slot on committees. 

The new chairs all have fairly safe seats in their home districts, in contrast to the slim edge House Republicans eked out overall in the midterms. In the districts represented by the chairs who were ratified Tuesday, the average margin of victory in 2022 was 44 points, and President Donald Trump’s average 2020 margin was 33 points.

Under House rules, several other chairs are named directly by the speaker, rather than by the steering committee. Those panels include Rules, Administration, Ethics and any select or joint committees, including the House Intelligence Committee. 

Below is a guide to the chairs of major House committees in the 118th Congress, with the caveat that some haven’t yet been finalized.

Agriculture

Glenn Thompson, a Pennsylvania Republican in his eighth term, assumes the top Agriculture Committee post as the panel prepares to write a 2023 farm bill to set multiyear policy for agriculture, nutrition, conservation and other programs. The current five-year bill expires Sept. 30.  

The Agriculture Committee is likely to debate the agriculture industry’s role in climate change policy. Thompson has expressed skepticism about the Biden administration incorporating climate policies in existing farm bill conservation programs and advancing new climate pilot programs.

However, Thompson successfully tacked on to the fiscal 2023 omnibus spending packag the text of his bill to allow the Agriculture Department to accept private contributions for private-public partnership accounts that could be used for climate and other projects under the Natural Resource Conservation Service. 

David Scott, D-Ga., the panel’s former chairman, will continue in his party’s top slot as ranking member.

Appropriations

Texas Republican Kay Granger takes the helm at Appropriations during a tumultuous time for her party, driven by a near-universal desire to cut federal spending, but less agreement on exactly what to cut. 

First elected in 1996, Granger became the first woman to lead her party on the powerful spending panel in 2019. Her Fort Worth-area district is home to military installations and defense contractors like Lockheed Martin Corp. She has repeatedly made clear that defense won’t bear the burden of any spending cuts that Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., agreed to in exchange for conservatives’ support.

Other Republicans quickly came out with similar statements, making it clear that domestic programs are likely to shoulder the brunt of any budget cuts. But it’s unclear that such austere fiscal 2024 appropriations bills can even pass the House, let alone the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., will continue as the top Appropriations Democrat in this Congress.

Armed Services

Mike D. Rogers, R-Ala., will chair the Armed Services Committee.

Rogers backs growth in the U.S. defense budget to deter Russia, China and other potential foes. He will also oversee an assault this year on what Republicans term the Pentagon’s “woke” social agenda, and the committee will help lead a House GOP probe of the problematic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021.  

Rogers has represented his eastern Alabama district for two decades. He was the Armed Services Committee’s ranking member in the 117th Congress, and once chaired its Strategic Forces panel. Eastern Alabama is home to several major Army and Air Force installations, and the aerospace and aviation hub of Huntsville is not far to the north.

Adam Smith of Washington remains the panel’s top Democrat.

Budget

Jodey C. Arrington, a Texas Republican now in his fourth term, won the Budget gavel after winning a three-way competition that played out before the steering committee on Monday.

Arrington’s already well acquainted with fiscal issues from his time serving on the Ways and Means Committee, which oversees tax policy and swaths of federal spending. He’ll have his hands full trying to unify the fractious GOP Conference around a budget resolution that can be adopted on a party-line vote, with just four votes to spare. But he’s also touted his work across the aisle to try to impose some fiscal discipline.

After winning the Budget slot late Monday, Arrington in a statement invoked James Madison’s admonition that “public debt is a public curse,” and at $31 trillion and counting, is exponentially greater than any of the Founding Fathers could have envisioned. “It will take a team effort across the GOP Conference and across the aisle to restore fiscal responsibility and reverse the curse,” Arrington said.

Brendan F. Boyle, D-Pa., will be the panel’s ranking member after the retirement of former Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky.

Education and the Workforce

The GOP Conference backed Virginia Foxx of North Carolina to chair the Committee on Education and the Workforce, returning her to a position she held from 2017 to 2019.

“To officials in the Biden administration: think about investing in a parking space on Capitol Hill — you will be here often,” she said Monday in a statement after winning the Republican Steering Committee’s nomination, fighting off a challenge by Tim Walberg of Michigan. 

Scrutiny of President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness program, currently tied up in the courts, will be a top priority, Foxx said. 

Robert C. Scott of Virginia is the panel’s top Democrat.

Energy and Commerce

Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington will chair the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee after two years serving as ranking member. 

She’s expected to focus first on energy policy, as Republicans seek to lower gas prices and counter Biden’s energy and economic agenda.

But the health care list is also long. Rodgers has pledged to drill down on the nation’s fentanyl crisis — an issue that also doubles as fodder for Republicans’ promise to secure the southern border and hold Big Tech companies’ feet to the fire.

Republicans also hope to boost their ongoing COVID-19 investigations with the additional power that comes with committee gavels. Ending the public health emergency, reversing worker mandates related to testing and vaccination, finding the origins of the virus, investigating fraud in pandemic aid programs and conducting oversight of the Biden administration’s pandemic-related decisions are all on the agenda.

Former Chairman Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., will be ranking member.

Ethics

Michael Guest, R-Miss., has the been the acting ranking member on Ethics, though McCarthy hasn’t made any announcements yet regarding his picks for the panel.

Democrats named Susan Wild of Pennsylvania as the new ranking member on Ethics, which could have its hands full right out of the gate investigating the circumstances around the election of Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., among other topics.

Financial Services

The GOP Conference backed Patrick T. McHenry of North Carolina, a key negotiator behind the deal to secure the speakership for McCarthy, to lead the House Financial Services Committee.

“I’m excited to get back to my policy bag,” McHenry said toward the end of speaker negotiations. “I mean, that’s what this whole week has been about, is getting on with the business.”

McHenry, who will take over the panel after four years as ranking member, has vowed to ramp up oversight of banking and market regulators, pursue legislation to protect consumer financial data protections, make it easier to raise capital and establish a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies.

Maxine Waters, D-Calif., stays on as ranking member.

Foreign Affairs 

Michael McCaul, R-Texas, has been selected as the next chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

McCaul was outspoken during last week’s speaker election floor drama about wanting to get started with committee work, including a planned investigation of the Biden administration’s chaotic exit from Afghanistan, as well as issues related to Russia and China as panel priorities in the 118th Congress.

The panel also is expected to debate U.S. aid to Ukraine, a top target of conservatives.

Gregory W. Meeks, D-N.Y., is ranking member.

Homeland Security

Tennessee Republican Mark E. Green will lead the House Homeland Security Committee, which oversees the third-largest government agency, after winning a contested race Monday at the steering panel. He cited priorities of countering weapons of mass destruction and issues related to the U.S.-Mexico border.

A member of the Freedom Caucus and a veteran and physician, Green emphasized his “breadth of experience,” including in health care, as making him uniquely qualified to lead the panel. Green is a former Army physician who later founded an emergency medical staffing company.

Green will lead efforts to oversee the sprawling department’s myriad duties, including border security, cybersecurity, counterterrorism and emergency response preparedness.

Bennie Thompson of Mississippi remains the panel’s top Democrat.

House Administration

Leadership of the committee that manages the House’s daily operations, various ancillary agencies like the Library of Congress, Capitol security and the U.S. Capitol Police as well as federal election law is up to McCarthy himself, rather than the steering panel. 

Since former Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., lost his primary last year, there remains a vacuum at the top that’s expected to filled by one of two candidates: Wisconsin’s Bryan Steil or Georgia’s Barry Loudermilk.

Steil has been viewed by some as the favorite since McCarthy tapped him to lead his “Restoring the People’s House” transition team for the 118th Congress, which focused on making the chamber more accessible to the public. But McCarthy, just coming off a weeklong battle to be elected speaker, hasn’t yet publicly signaled his intentions.

Joseph D. Morelle of New York will be the panel’s top Democrat, succeeding California’s Zoe Lofgren.

Intelligence

Another speaker-appointed role, the Intelligence chair slot hasn’t been made official yet. But it doesn’t appear that Rep. Michael R. Turner, R-Ohio, who’s been ranking member for the past year, has any competition for it.

First elected in 2002, Turner is the third-most senior Republican on the Armed Services Committee and has served on the Intelligence panel since 2015. He represents Ohio’s 10th District, an Air Force-heavy area that is home to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

As ranking member of the Intelligence panel, Turner touted the expansion of intelligence operations at Wright-Patterson under his watch. He is also a staunch China hawk.

It’s not yet clear who’ll be ranking member on the committee; McCarthy has pledged to boot Rep. Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., the former chairman, off the panel altogether.

Judiciary

Ohio Republican Jim Jordan will lead the Judiciary Committee, which oversees the Justice Department and a wide array of issues related to crime, policing, internet and tech companies, immigration, border policy and more.

The former college wrestling coach has taken a lead role in his party on oversight of the Biden administration and said the committee’s work would be vigorous and aggressive. He has remained one of Trump’s fiercest allies, who has widely panned Biden’s policies on the U.S.-Mexico border and the economy.

Jordan has said Republicans plan to focus on “problems which have all happened in the past two years,” including migrant crossings at the southern border and what he calls the weaponization of the government and the Justice Department against citizens. 

The panel’s former chair, Jerrold Nadler of New York, will be ranking member in this Congress.

Natural Resources

House Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., said that under his leadership the committee will focus on “responsible stewardship of the incredible natural resources we’ve been given.”

Westerman will lead the committee after one term as its ranking member, having taken over the top Republican spot in 2021.

A licensed forester and engineer prior to entering politics, he has leaned on his experience and pointed to forestry as a possible area for bipartisan consensus. A frequent critic of both the administration and the current federal permitting process, he has called for the government to support greater development of oil, gas and mineral resources on public lands.

Arizona Democrat Raúl M. Grijalva will continue to lead his party on Natural Resources as ranking member.

Oversight and Accountability

Kentucky GOP Rep. James R. Comer‘s quick rise up the House Republican ranks has landed him the chairmanship of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee in the new Congress.

A McCarthy ally, Comer is vowing to investigate a list of issues related to Biden, his family and his administration.

“I mean, when you hear more stories about outrageous activities that the Biden family’s engaged in, you have to ask yourself, where is Joe Biden on this? Why doesn’t he have the decency to rein the family in?” he told Fox News on Dec. 9. “Their business is influence peddling.” No Biden has been charged with criminal wrongdoing. 

Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin is the top Democrat on the committee.

Rules

Sometimes referred to as the “speaker’s committee,” each of its majority members, including its chair, is hand-picked by McCarthy.

The speaker hasn’t yet named the panel’s full GOP roster — which conservatives expect to populate in part with Freedom Caucus members — but on Tuesday he officially tapped Tom Cole, R-Okla., to move over from the ranking member slot to the chair.

Rules derives its power from its key role in setting the terms of floor debate, deciding which amendments can be offered, how long debate will last, which points of order can be waived and so forth. Any bill with any controversy attached to it has to go through Rules, which can modify legislation with all manner of last-minute fixes to win votes.

The panel’s top Democrat remains Jim McGovern of Massachusetts.

Science, Space and Technology

Frank D. Lucas, R-Okla., is taking over the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, which oversees science agencies and federal research.

Lucas describes the panel, which has jurisdiction over NASA, the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as well as digital technology like artificial intelligence, as a committee of the future due to its focus on emerging issues.

“America has long been the global leader because of our commitment to innovative, fundamental research and our ability to leverage public-private partnerships,” Lucas said. “It will be our job on the Committee to ensure the U.S. stays at the cutting edge of science and technology by supporting and protecting American research.”

Lofgren is the panel’s new top Democrat, replacing former Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, who retired after the 117th Congress.

Small Business

New Small Business Chairman Roger Williams says he will draw on his decades as a car dealer “to be the voice of Main Street America” as the panel digs into regulations issued by the Biden administration. 

Williams, R-Texas, said he plans to take on rules he considers costly and burdensome. He seems unlikely to use the committee to scrutinize the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, a lending program to help businesses retain workers during COVID-19 shutdowns. 

Government watchdogs say there is evidence of fraud and lax lending standards. Williams received at least $1 million in 2020 for his auto business, money that he said helped to save many jobs.

Nydia M. Velázquez of New York will continue in her role as the panel’s top Democrat.

Transportation and Infrastructure

Sam Graves, R-Mo., will lead the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the 118th Congress. Graves, who has led Republicans on the panel as ranking member since 2018, ran uncontested and secured the Steering Committee’s favor soon after the November midterms when Republicans won control.

He’s set to focus on oversight of the Biden administration’s implementation of the 2021 infrastructure law, as well as Federal Aviation Administration and Pipeline Safety and Hazardous Materials Administration reauthorization bills.

Graves replaces former Rep. Peter A. DeFazio, D-Ore., who retired, as chairman. The Democratic Caucus elected Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., as ranking member of the infrastructure panel in December.

Veterans’ Affairs

Mike Bost, R-Ill., will continue to serve as top Republican on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Bost, a veteran himself who has also held jobs as a firefighter and a truck driver, has served on the committee since coming to Congress in 2015.

Bost says he’s “committed to ensuring full transparency for veterans and taxpayers so that [veterans] have access to the care, support, and services they have earned and to lead fulfilling lives as civilians.” 

He initially opposed 2022 legislation to establish a costly new benefit program for veterans suffering illnesses due to toxic exposure, such as open burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. But he came around and ultimately backed the final version negotiated with the Senate.

The previous chairman, Mark Takano, D-Calif., will move over to Bost’s old ranking member slot.

Ways and Means

Jason Smith, R-Mo., won a three-way race on Monday to become the next chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, with jurisdiction over tax and trade policy, Medicare, Social Security and other entitlement programs and the statutory debt ceiling that the Treasury is set to hit later this year.

Smith is pledging more of a working-class tone at Ways and Means and a populist-tinged trade policy in line with Trump’s approach to China, for instance. He’s also gearing up for the coming battle over federal spending, while at the same time seeking extensions of Trump’s signature tax cuts.

Smith, who was the top Republican on the Budget panel in the last Congress, will be the youngest-ever Ways and Means chairman.

His Democratic counterpart is Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts, who’d been Ways and Means chairman since 2019. 

Peter Cohn, Ellyn Ferguson, Aidan Quigley, John M. Donnelly, Paul M. Krawzak, Lindsey McPherson, Caitlin Reilly, Lauren Clason, Herb Jackson, Benjamin J. Hulac, David Jordan, Valerie Yurk, John T. Bennett, Suzanne Monyak, Mark Satter, Laura Weiss and Michael Macagnone contributed to this report.

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