Rep. Kline takes top Ed and Labor spot

House Republican leaders selected Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), an ally of Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio,) to be the ranking member of the Education and Labor Committee.
 
The 28-member GOP Steering Committee chose the four-term congressman over Conference Vice Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.).
 
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The retired Marine colonel will take over for Rep. Buck McKeon (Calif.), who was selected to be the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee. McKeon replaced Rep. John McHugh (R-N.Y.), who stepped down after President Obama nominated him to become secretary of the Army.
 
Kline jumped into the race last week to make it a three-way contest for the plum spot once held by the GOP leader. The Minnesotan has played important leadership roles in his time on the panel, which has wide-ranging jurisdiction over important matters including pension reform. He is also considered a more conservative member of the House and is a strong ally of Boehner, who has five votes on the Steering Committee.
 
Some conservatives initially balked at giving McKeon the top spot on Armed Services, not because they didn’t think he deserved the job but because they had concerns about who would fill his post at Education and Labor opposite committee Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.), a liberal ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Miller has a full agenda of legislation he’s eager to move, including changes to President Bush’s signature No Child Left Behind education law.
 
Reps. Mike Castle (Del.) and Tom Petri (Wis.), both centrists, were among the three most senior GOP members in line, with the third being Rep. Pete Hoekstra (Mich.), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee who has plans to leave Congress and run for governor in 2010.
 
But Castle and Petri both dropped out when it became clear leadership was not putting a premium on seniority. Castle wouldn’t committee to running for reelection in 2010 if given the top spot. He is considering a run for the Senate.