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Wilson endorses Foxx as next House Education chairman

The No. 2 Republican on the House Education and Workforce Committee is endorsing Rep. Virginia FoxxVirginia Ann FoxxHouse Dems call for first Education Committee hearing on school shootings since Sandy Hook House Oversight Committee opens probe into sexual abuse of gymnasts Students drowning in debt bewildered by claims college is a 'hammock' MORE (R-N.C.) to become the panel’s next chairman.

In an interview with The Hill, Rep. Joe WilsonAddison (Joe) Graves WilsonTrump called for unity — he didn’t even last a week Dem: Trump ‘dragged this country deep into the mud of autocracy and dictatorship’ with ‘treason’ comment Pelosi: Pundits will say Trump did well 'if his nose isn’t running and he isn’t burping' MORE (R-S.C.) said he would fully support Foxx to succeed retiring Education Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.). The endorsement all but guarantees Foxx — a current member of the GOP leadership team — will win the committee gavel later this fall.

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“She’s qualified as a former college administrator, as an educator with all the issues relative to education and workforce,” Wilson said. “She’s got the qualifications, and I feel she will be a very positive chairman.

“I would expect her to be a shoo-in.”

Wilson is the second-most senior Republican on the panel after Kline; Foxx, the secretary of the House GOP Conference, is third. But Wilson said he’s more focused on the work of his other two committees: the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs panels.

And House Republicans openly acknowledge they could use a few women leading committees. Administration Committee Chairwoman Candice MillerCandice Sue MillerGOP puts Obama on notice over visa carve-outs Wilson endorses Foxx as next House Education chairman ACLU cheers visa waiver fix bill MORE (R-Mich.) is the only woman among 20 House GOP “standing” committee chairmen, but like Kline, she’s also retiring from Congress this year.

Last year, Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnBlackburn pushes back on potential Corker bid: 'I'm going to win' Nervous GOP seeks new 2018 Senate candidates in three states Corker 'listening closely' to calls to reconsider retirement MORE (R-Tenn.) was appointed chairwoman of a special committee formed to investigate Planned Parenthood.

It’s unclear if Wilson could have successfully challenged Foxx for the gavel, but he insisted he hadn’t been discouraged by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) or other leaders to run for the post.

“I’ve been to the meetings [with education special-interest groups.] I really respect John Kline. He has nerves of steel to sit there ad infinitum,” Wilson said. “They are tough issues that I don’t have a passion for. My passion is for a strong national defense.”

The House GOP Steering Committee, led by Ryan, will select new committee chairmen after the November election. With Miller retiring, there will be tremendous pressure to give some female lawmakers a seat at the table.

Ryan could pick another woman to succeed Miller as Administration chairman, but freshman Rep. Barbara ComstockBarbara Jean ComstockProgressive group targets GOP moderates on immigration Lawmakers eye new programs to boost tech workforce Anti-Semitic post prompts Virginia Republicans to split with controversial GOP figure: report MORE (R-Va.) is the only other female lawmaker currently serving on the panel.

As vice chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Blackburn is well-positioned to succeed Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who must relinquish the gavel later this year due to term limits. But she would have to leapfrog over several other more senior male colleagues.

Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) is a senior member of the powerful Appropriations Committee, but she’ll have plenty of company in the race to replace term-limited Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) later this year.

Another senior female lawmaker, Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), is retiring from Congress at the end of the year.