Jordan wins Oversight leading role for House GOP in surprise move

Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsDarrell Issa eyes return to Congress Oversight Republicans: 'Hundreds' of migrants in caravans have criminal histories FBI, warned early and often that Manafort file might be fake, used it anyway MORE (R-N.C.) abruptly stepped aside on Thursday to allow his House Freedom Caucus ally, Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanOversight Republicans: 'Hundreds' of migrants in caravans have criminal histories Cummings requests interview with Census official over new allegations on citizenship question House Oversight Republicans release parts of Kobach, Trump officials' testimony on census citizenship question MORE (R-Ohio), to run uncontested for the ranking member role on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee — a position that he won.

Jordan, who won the race with no other competitors to challenge him, is expected to be a fierce defender of President TrumpDonald John TrumpConway defends herself against Hatch Act allegations amid threat of subpoena How to defuse Gulf tensions and avoid war with Iran Trump says 'stubborn child' Fed 'blew it' by not cutting rates MORE when Democrats take control of the panel next Congress. They are expected to become involved in a series of investigations into the Trump administration.

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House Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseLawmakers warn of 'grave situation' after drone shot down House Democrats close to finalizing border aid bill Hillicon Valley: GOP senator wants one agency to run tech probes | Huawei expects to lose B in sales from US ban | Self-driving car bill faces tough road ahead | Elon Musk tweets that he 'deleted' his Twitter account MORE (R-La.) and two GOP lawmakers on the steering committee confirmed that Jordan won.

"The steering committee unanimously selected Jim Jordan to be our next ranking member. And I think he's going to do a great job and thought that it was a good move by the committee," Scalise told The Hill. "You never know what good things will happen along the way in these interviews."

The move is a stunning turn of events amid buzz that Meadows was vying uncontested for the role in the lead-up to the steering committee vote. 

Meadows arrived to the steering committee carrying a binder, which likely contained a layout of his vision for the panel. And part way into the meeting, Jordan entered the closed-door meeting.

Jordan then confirmed to reporters that Meadows had pulled out of the race and that he had declared his interest. 

"I just talked to them about the OGR ranking member position. The committee is discussing what they are going to do," Jordan told reporters. "I just went in and told them I am interested in the position."

When asked if Meadows was running, Jordan replied: "No, he is not."

Meadows at the time, however, declined to say that he was not running.

Jordan, the senior-most member on the Oversight committee, earlier in the day dropped out of the race for the House Judiciary Committee amid concerns he would not make it through the steering committee.

But by running in this particular race for Oversight, Jordan didn’t face the stiff competition he would’ve had if he chose to run for Judiciary, in which Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsHicks repeatedly blocked by White House from answering Judiciary questions Judiciary chair: Hicks broke with Trump on accepting foreign dirt on opponents Democrats bristle as Hicks appears for daylong Capitol Hill testimony MORE (R-Ga.) — who won the GOP leadership role there — already appeared to be the clear favorite among GOP leadership and the steering committee.

Leading up to the steering committee vote on Oversight, it appeared Meadows was a shoo-in.

Members of the House Freedom Caucus — who have earned a reputation for being a thorn in leadership’s side — have faced an uphill battle in securing chairmanships. The group of hard-line conservatives has long been pushing for better committee assignments and top positions on panels.