Five Republicans poised to increase their power if the GOP takes the House
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this report incorrectly listed Rep. James Comer’s home state.
Top Republicans on House panels, confident about the GOP’s chances of taking control of the chamber next year, have for months been planning what they’ll do with committee gavels.
Committee chairs influence hearing focus, investigations and subpoenas, in addition to legislative priorities. Lawmakers’ personal style can play a large role in a committee’s work.
The House Republican Conference’s Steering Committee will formally select most committee chairs. But while the leaders of some committees are up in the air, most current ranking members are poised to be chairs next year.
Here are ranking members on five powerful committees likely to increase their power in a GOP majority.
Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), ranking member on House Oversight and Reform Committee
Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) addresses the audience gathered at the Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Ky.
With many top GOP priorities unlikely to overcome a Senate filibuster or a presidential veto in the next two years, a major focus for a GOP-led House next year will be challenging the Biden administration through oversight and investigations.
Comer plans to focus the committee’s investigations into three main areas next year: the origins of the coronavirus, policies at the U.S.-Mexico border and the overseas activities of President Biden’s son Hunter Biden.
Comer, along with House Judiciary Committee ranking member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), released emails between chief White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci and other top public health officials discussing the possibility of the virus originating in a lab.
He says the committee’s staff has a copy of Hunter Biden’s infamous laptop hard drive, which he says would allow him to look into his suspicions that some of the president’s decisions may have been impacted by his son’s business dealings — allegations President Biden has repeatedly denied.
But while his panel leads those probes, Comer says he does not want to overuse subpoena power.
“I want to hope that when my time is done as Chairman of the Oversight Committee, they will say, ‘He was fair, we didn’t try to do anything overtly political,’” Comer told The Hill in an interview earlier this year.
Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), ranking member on House Appropriations Committee
Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington as she emerges from a closed-door session with fellow Republicans.
Granger is in line to become chair of the Appropriations panel, raising her status as a powerful negotiator for government funding deals.
The committee has broad jurisdiction over funding the government and is composed of 12 subcommittees, each of which have authority over different parts of the government.
In several letters sent last week, Granger showed a willingness to challenge administrative agencies on their authority in light of a Supreme Court ruling this year that conservatives saw as a key victory in their quest to reign in regulatory powers.
“The Constitution clearly states that Congress, not the administration, has the power and responsibility to legislate. Unfortunately, the administration continues to overstep its authority,” Granger said in a statement.
Granger, who has been in the House for nearly 25 years and is the most senior Republican woman in the chamber, has held the committee’s ranking member post for two cycles. Before that, she led the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, which is responsible for a large chunk of federal funding.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), ranking member on House Energy and Commerce Committee
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) smiles during a news conference at the Republican congressional retreat in Philadelphia.
Rodgers would be the first woman to lead the House Energy and Commerce panel. And she already has plans for the committee’s top priorities.
“Very big picture, it’s to protect Americans and to unleash innovation and technology in the United States of America,” Rodgers told Punchbowl News last month when asked about priorities for the panel in a GOP House majority.
The congresswoman has three areas of focus: unleashing American energy, holding big tech accountable and probes into health care, particularly ones zeroing in on the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the energy front, Rodgers emphasized the importance of bringing down carbon emissions and decreasing dependence on China. She said TikTok was among the “worst actors” in tech and raised concerns regarding data collected and stored in China and kids on social media.
And on the third prong, health care, Rodgers wants to dive into the U.S.’s coronavirus response, explore how to prepare for future pandemics, and bring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under congressional authorization.
She also vowed to bring Fauci before the committee, even though he will be gone from government at that point.
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), ranking member on House Armed Services Committee
U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers talks as a character witness during former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard ethics trial in Opelika, Ala.
One area Rogers has his eyes on if he leads the Armed Services panel next year is the Biden administration’s efforts to revive the Iran Nuclear Deal, which then-President Trump pulled the U.S. out of in 2018.
As part of the agreement, struck under former President Obama in 2015, Iran said it would disassemble parts of its nuclear program and allow more widespread inspections of its facilities. In return, Tehran was freed of billions of dollars’ worth of sanctions.
Rogers, who previously served as ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, has promised to block any attempts at bringing back the deal.
“Let me make this clear, this deal with Iran will be dead on arrival in a Republican controlled Congress and Congress will strengthen sanctions against Iran,” Rogers wrote in a statement in response to reports of the Biden administration working to bring the deal back to life.
The Armed Services panel will also likely focus on last year’s messy withdrawal from Afghanistan if Republicans take control of the lower chamber. Thirteen U.S. service members died in a suicide attack outside the Kabul airport on Aug. 26, 2021, amid the U.S.’s evacuation.
In a statement commemorating the one-year anniversary of the fatal attack, Rogers vowed to continue pushing for answers regarding the failures that led to the 13 deaths.
“We still lack answers from the Biden Administration on why military advice was ignored, why the withdrawal was based on a date and not the reality on the ground, and why no one has been held accountable for the security failures that led to the bombing one year ago,” Rogers said.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), ranking member on House Judiciary Committee
Rep. Jim Jordan, U.S. Representative for Ohio’s 4th Congressional District, speaks at a campaign rally in Youngstown, Ohio.
Jordan, a founding former chairman of the confrontational conservative House Freedom Caucus, went from being a challenger to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to lead the House Republican Conference a few years ago to a steadfast supporter of McCarthy for Speaker next year if Republicans win the House.
With the subpoena power that comes with the Judiciary panel’s gavel, Jordan — an ally of Trump — could have a leading role in House GOP investigatory actions.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI are top targets for Jordan, who has said that 14 whistleblowers from within the FBI have come to his committee alleging various politically motivated bias against conservatives.
“We’re going to look into this weaponization of the DOJ against the American people,” Jordan said last week at House Republicans’ event in Pennsylvania rolling out a “Commitment to America” policy and messaging platform.
Some of that will have to do with DOJ investigations into Trump. Jordan, Comer and McCarthy earlier this month requested a hearing with Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray on the FBI’s search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and recovery of classified documents and asked them to preserve communications and documents relating to the raid, an indication that the committee may utilize its subpoena power in the future.
The Judiciary panel would also have jurisdiction over any impeachment efforts. Many right-wing Republicans have pushed for impeaching Biden, and McCarthy has opened the door to impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Bonus: Open races for top slots
Rep. Adrian Smith (R-Neb.) speaks during a legislative summit featuring Nebraska’s elected Congressional and House officials, in Ashland, Neb.
With Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) retiring from Congress at the end of the year, the top GOP slot on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee is up for grabs next year. Three members are seeking the position: Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), who is next in line on the committee; Rep. Adrian Smith (R-Neb.), the third-ranking Republican on the panel; and Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.), the current ranking member on the House Budget Committee who announced a bid for Ways and Means chair when he opted out of running for Senate in this cycle.
The Homeland Security Committee gavel is also an open race, with ranking member John Katko (R-N.Y.) leaving Congress at the end of the year. Third-ranking Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) is interested in the slot, as are two members who previously sat on the committee: Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) and Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.). With the GOP’s heavy focus on migration policies at the U.S.-Mexico border, the panel would have plenty of high-profile activity under a GOP majority.
–Updated at 10:40 a.m.