By Scott Wong - 01/20/16 03:24 PM EST
The No. 2 Republican on the House Education and Workforce Committee is endorsing Rep. Virginia FoxxVirginia FoxxOvernight Finance: Republicans move to block overtime rule | House, Senate split on IRS cuts | Yellen heading back before Congress Overnight Regulation: House Republicans move to block overtime rule House GOP moves to block overtime rule MORE (R-N.C.) to become the panel’s next chairman.
In an interview with The Hill, Rep. Joe WilsonJoe WilsonGOP fears next Trump blowup House GOP urges Obama to drop veto threat against defense bill Overnight Cybersecurity: Fight over feds' hacking powers moves to Congress 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.
“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 Miller (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 BlackburnTennessee lawmaker mourns Pat Summitt Don't stop the clock on medical research Why won’t Obama’s FCC leave Us alone? 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 Comstock (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.