House GOP approves overhaul of powerful Steering panel

Greg Nash

House Republicans voted Thursday to reorganize the powerful Steering Committee, the first step in a series of expected reforms under new Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to decentralize power within the 246-member GOP conference.

The vote in a closed-door meeting was unanimous, a rarity for the usually raucous caucus. The Steering panel, led by the Speaker, has enormous influence on Capitol Hill, deciding each Congress which members receive coveted committee gavels and committee assignments.

{mosads}The 33-member panel this month elected Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) over Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) to become chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. Tiberi will take over Brady’s old job as the top House Republican on the bicameral Joint Economic Committee, sources said.

Under the reorganization, six top House committee chairmen, close allies of the Speaker, were booted from the Steering Committee. But a chairman will be able to sit in on select Steering meetings if they are centered on issues pertaining to that chairman’s specific committee.

The chairmen will be replaced by lawmakers elected by the entire 246-member GOP conference.

In another change, Ryan now will only get four votes on the panel instead of five, though the Speaker will have an opportunity to appoint a new “at-large” member to the panel.

New members of the panel will be elected later this year to reflect the changes. Other procedural and rules reforms are expected to be taken up by the GOP conference later this year — something Ryan has promised to rank-and-file members who’ve complained about the “top-down” power structure.

Tags Kevin Brady Paul Ryan
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