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Graves, Crawford to each seek top GOP slot on Transportation Committee

Graves would need waiver from GOP rules to remain in the slot

Chairman Sam Graves, R-Mo., at a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing in February 2023.
Chairman Sam Graves, R-Mo., at a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing in February 2023. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Sam Graves is seeking a waiver to remain the panel’s top Republican, setting up a race against the panel’s second-most senior Republican, Rep. Rick Crawford, who is expected to announce his bid this week, according to sources familiar with their plans.

Graves, R-Mo., has been privately discussing a bid to ask the Republican Steering Committee for a waiver from the conference’s term length rules, which limits members to six years as chairman or ranking member of a committee, multiple sources confirmed.

Now in his second year as committee chairman, with four previous years as ranking member behind him, Graves would need this waiver to maintain his position.

Crawford, R-Ark., is chairman of the Highways and Transit Subcommittee. Sources on and off the Hill said he will announce his interest in the top position this week. 

Staff members from Graves and Crawford’s offices declined to comment.

Both Graves and Crawford are longtime members of the committee with deep ties to the transportation industry. Graves has served on the panel for over 20 years with a stint as the Highways and Transit Subcommittee chairman. Crawford has been a committee member for over 10 years and also previously served as ranking member of the panel’s Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee.

There’s precedent on granting committee leadership waivers — House Republicans granted one to Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., at the beginning of the 118th Congress to allow her to maintain leadership of the Education and the Workforce Committee.

But the decision hinges on many unknowns, such as which party will take the majority in November and which members make up the Republican Steering Committee, the body that would vote. 

Graves’ bid comes on the heels of shepherding a number of hefty bills, like a Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization, through the panel in a bipartisan fashion alongside ranking member Rick Larsen, D-Wash.

As he pursues the chair, Crawford may tout his position as head of the Highways and Transit Subcommittee, as lawmakers are set to consider a major highway reauthorization bill in the next Congress. Sources familiar with Crawford’s plans said he is expected to lay out a more comprehensive policy agenda when he announces his bid.

With the top spot not potentially changing until next year, for the time being Graves intends to focus on committee priorities of passing a final FAA reauthorization and a water resources bill, sources said.

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