Rep. Steve Womack said to have 'inside track' on key gavel

Rep. Steve Womack said to have 'inside track' on key gavel
© Greg Nash

House Republicans next week will pick their new Budget Committee chairman, the third to occupy the post in the past year.

The Republican Steering Committee, a powerful panel of leadership allies led by Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanFive GOP lawmakers mulling bid to lead conservative caucus On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Trump walks back criticism of UK Brexit strategy | McConnell worries US in 'early stages' of trade war | US trade deficit with China hits new record Tampons sent to Dem who called for free feminine hygiene products in House MORE (R-Wis.), will meet Tuesday behind closed doors to select someone to succeed Budget Chairwoman Diane BlackDiane Lynn BlackGOP lawmaker introduces legislation labelling first-time illegal border crossing as a felony Scalise throws support behind Black, Blackburn ahead of Tennessee primary GOP lawmaker: Porn partly to blame for school shootings MORE (R), who is stepping down from the post to focus on her 2018 bid for Tennessee governor.

Rep. Steve WomackStephen (Steve) Allen WomackSenate chairman urges move to two-year budgetary process On The Money: Senate passes first 2019 spending bill | Trump hits Harley-Davidson in tariffs fight | Mnuchin rips report of investment restrictions | Justices side with American Express in antitrust case Fortenberry named chairman of legislative appropriations subcommittee in House MORE (R-Ark.), a leadership ally who was part of the 2010 class that took back the majority, is the favorite, GOP Steering Committee members and other sources said.

Womack himself is a member of the Steering Committee.

Two other Republicans who were part of the 2010 class — former Republican Study Committee (RSC) Chairman Rob WoodallWilliam (Rob) Robert WoodallMay brings key primaries across nation Path to Dem majority lies in well-educated districts McConnell, Schumer tap colleagues to explore budget reform MORE (R-Ga.) and Rep. Bill JohnsonWilliam (Bill) Leslie JohnsonGreens win court case seeking stronger air pollution rules for brick makers Overnight Defense: VA pick breezes through confirmation hearing | House votes to move on defense bill negotiations | Senate bill would set 'stringent' oversight on North Korea talks Arizona men charged with operating scam PACs MORE (R-Ohio) — also are vying for the Budget gavel.

“Womack has the inside track,” said a senior GOP aide who is familiar with the Budget panel.

The 32-member Steering Committee, which is made up of the GOP leadership team and regional representatives, will also choose someone to replace Rep. Pat TiberiPatrick (Pat) Joseph TiberiElection Countdown: Latest on the 2018 Senate money race | Red-state Dems feeling the heat over Kavanaugh | Dem doubts about Warren | Ocasio-Cortez to visit Capitol Hill | Why Puerto Ricans in Florida could swing Senate race Ohio Dem aims to win over Kasich wing of GOP Ex-lawmakers see tough job market with trade groups MORE (R-Ohio) on the influential Ways and Means Committee. Tiberi is resigning from Congress on Jan. 15 to take a private sector job.

Steering Committee members also said the future of Appropriations Chairman Rodney FrelinghuysenRodney Procter Frelinghuysen'Minibus' spending conference committee abruptly canceled GOP runs into Trump tax law in New Jersey Fortenberry named chairman of legislative appropriations subcommittee in House MORE (R-N.J.) could be discussed at the private meeting. Leaders of the conservative Republican Study Committee have been furious at the moderate Appropriations chair for voting against the GOP tax overhaul. RSC Chairman Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerFive GOP lawmakers mulling bid to lead conservative caucus Senators seek data on tax law's impact on charitable giving Jordan weathering political storm, but headwinds remain MORE (R-N.C.) has personally urged Ryan to strip Frelinghuysen of his gavel.

But several GOP sources said there probably is not the political appetite on the Steering Committee to move against Frelinghuysen, who is already one of Democrats' top 2018 targets.

“It might get discussed, but I doubt there's the will to do that,” one Steering Committee member told The Hill.

The next Budget chairman is expected to play an integral role in shaping the GOP’s 2018 agenda.

Ryan has suggested Republicans could use the budget reconciliation process this year to pass welfare or entitlement reforms. To do that, however, Republicans will need to craft and pass identical budget resolutions in both the House and Senate — a feat many in the party see as difficult to achieve in a tough election year.

A year ago, Womack had vied to become a powerful Appropriations “cardinal,” the chairman of an Appropriations subcommittee, but that job instead went to Rep. Kevin YoderKevin Wayne YoderElection Countdown: Latest on the 2018 Senate money race | Red-state Dems feeling the heat over Kavanaugh | Dem doubts about Warren | Ocasio-Cortez to visit Capitol Hill | Why Puerto Ricans in Florida could swing Senate race The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — Trump takes off gloves at NATO summit LGBTQ advocates to protest Pence visit to Kansas City MORE (R-Kansas), who is very close with GOP leadership.

Now, there is a feeling among Steering Committee members that it’s Womack’s time.

However, sources raised questions about whether Womack a year from now would want to trade up his Budget gavel for another Appropriations subcommittee chairmanship, which controls billions of dollars in spending. Rep. Charlie DentCharles (Charlie) Wieder DentEx-lawmakers see tough job market with trade groups Dem, GOP groups prepare spending blitz for midterms Fortenberry named chairman of legislative appropriations subcommittee in House MORE (R-Pa.), who leads the Appropriations subcommittee on military construction and veterans affairs, is not seeking reelection this year.

That would mean yet more change for the Budget Committee.

In January 2017, Rep. Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PriceFive GOP lawmakers mulling bid to lead conservative caucus Overnight Health Care: Watchdog finds Tom Price improperly used funds on flights | Ex-Novartis CEO sent drug pricing proposal to Cohen | HHS staffers depart after controversial social media posts The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — Mueller indicts 12 Russian officials for DNC hack | Trump does damage control after bombshell interview MORE (R-Ga.) relinquished the Budget gavel to become President TrumpDonald John TrumpReporters defend CNN's Acosta after White House says he 'disrespected' Trump with question Security costs of Trump visit to Scotland sparks outrage among Scottish citizens Ex-CIA officer: Prosecution of Russians indicted for DNC hack 'ain't ever going to happen' MORE’s Health and Human Services secretary, though he only lasted about eight months. Black took the reins of the Budget panel, passing the budget that helped smooth the way for the tax overhaul. But she announced she’s handing over the gavel this month as she turns her focus to the Tennessee governor’s race.

If Womack wins the Budget gavel, then steps aside to become an Appropriations cardinal, “that would be the fourth Budget chairman in two years,” the senior GOP aide said.