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 RyanMcMorris Rodgers seeks to tamp down unrest Conservative group unveils plan to slash spending by trillion Arizona GOP winner to join Freedom Caucus MORE (R-Wis.), will meet Tuesday behind closed doors to select someone to succeed Budget Chairwoman Diane BlackDiane Lynn BlackGOP lawmaker, candidate for governor cancels NFL season tickets over protests Ex-EPA heads urge Pruitt to scrap changes to truck pollution rule Protecting nurses’ conscience: a non-negotiable in the final FY 2018 spending bill MORE (R), who is stepping down from the post to focus on her 2018 bid for Tennessee governor.

Rep. Steve WomackStephen (Steve) Allen WomackCBO projects booming deficits Armed Services panel sets schedule for consideration of defense policy bill Sales tax battle moves to the Supreme Court 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 WoodallPath to Dem majority lies in well-educated districts McConnell, Schumer tap colleagues to explore budget reform Ryan, Pelosi name members to new budget and pension committees MORE (R-Ga.) and Rep. Bill JohnsonWilliam (Bill) Leslie JohnsonHouse votes to delay EPA air pollution rules for brickmakers, wood heaters How SpaceX embodies the importance of the free market Watchdog: Federal utility spent nearly M on private aircraft 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 TiberiTiberi endorses would-be successor ahead of GOP primary Loss of Ryan hits hard for House Republicans Dems look to Ohio for another election upset 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 FrelinghuysenPath to Dem majority lies in well-educated districts Is Paul Ryan the latest sign of crumbling Republican Party? Loss of Ryan hits hard for House Republicans 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 WalkerMcMorris Rodgers seeks to tamp down unrest Conservative group unveils plan to slash spending by trillion Pence pledges federal support to NC tornado victims 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 YoderGOP House super PAC reserves million in fall TV ads Progressive group targets GOP moderates on immigration GOP cautious, Dems strident in reaction to new indictments 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 DentFrustrated execs clamor for action on bank nominees Republicans divided over legislation protecting Mueller With Ryan out, let’s blow up the process for selecting the next Speaker 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 PricePress: Why does Scott Pruitt still have a job? Dem lawmaker rips Trump's taxpayer spending on Tax Day Trump admits mistakes with Cabinet picks MORE (R-Ga.) relinquished the Budget gavel to become President TrumpDonald John TrumpFormer Watergate prosecutor: Trump taking the fifth would be political suicide Comey: I’m ‘embarrassed and ashamed’ by Republican party Comey, Anderson Cooper clash over whether memo release violated FBI rules 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.