GOP struggles to find right Republican for Rules

Incoming House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyOn The Money: Breaking down the June jobs report | The biggest threats facing the recovery | What will the next stimulus bill include? McCarthy to offer bill withholding funds from states that don't protect statues McCarthy calls on Pelosi to condemn 'mob violence' after toppling of St. Junipero Serra statue MORE (Calif.) is struggling with one of his first jobs: picking someone to serve as the top Republican on the influential Rules Committee that dictates how every piece of legislation is considered on the floor.

Rep. Tom ColeThomas (Tom) Jeffrey ColeCheney clashes with Trump Tom Cole wins GOP House primary in Oklahoma On The Trail: Crisis response puts Trump on defense, even in red states MORE (Okla.) is the most senior Republican on the panel after Rules Chairman Pete SessionsPeter Anderson SessionsFormer FBI Director William Sessions dies at age 90 Texas kicks off critical battle for House control The Hill's review of John Solomon's columns on Ukraine MORE (R-Texas), who is leaving Congress after losing his reelection bid.

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There is chatter McCarthy has been trying to convince Cole to take the job, but the Oklahoman is reluctant because of his role as the top Republican on an Appropriations subcommittee that controls tens of billions of dollars in funding. He likely cannot have both jobs on two top panels, known in the Capitol as “A” committees.

Last week, Cole lost the top GOP job on the Appropriations Committee to Rep. Kay GrangerNorvell (Kay) Kay GrangerSpace dominance by way of Texas Lawmakers call on VA to remove swastikas from headstones in veterans cemeteries The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the APTA - A huge night for Joe Biden MORE (R-Texas). He has passed up running for Budget Committee chairman in the past due to his leadership role on the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees health, education and labor.

“People would view Cole as a very capable member,” said a GOP aide familiar with the Rules panel. “He knows the process and how things are done better than most; he gets along with people but is also knowledgeable.”

A McCarthy spokesperson had no immediate comment for this story.

Another senior Republican on the committee, Rep. Michael BurgessMichael Clifton BurgessTechnical difficulties mar several remote House hearings The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Moniz says U.S. needs energy jobs coalition and Manchin says Congress is pushing Wall Street solutions that don't work for Main Street; Burr to step aside The Hill's 12:30 Report: House returns to DC for coronavirus relief MORE (R-Texas), is in the same boat as Cole: The former physician has been chairman of a powerful Energy and Commerce subcommittee that oversees health-care issues and would be the top Republican on that panel in the next Congress.

Then there is Rep. Rob WoodallWilliam (Rob) Robert WoodallDemocrat Carolyn Bourdeaux wins Georgia House primary, avoids runoff after final count The Hill's Campaign Report: Bad polling data is piling up for Trump Democrats head to runoff in top Georgia House race MORE (R-Ga.), the second most senior member on the committee after Cole. But he’ll be one of Democrats’ top targets in the 2020 cycle. Woodall nearly lost his reelection bid last month and could prefer to devote his energies to the campaign trail rather than an exhaustive job leading Rules for the minority party.

Rep. Dan NewhouseDaniel (Dan) Milton NewhouseThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Rep. Khanna says President Trump threatening violence against US citizens; Trump terminating relationship with WHO GOP lawmaker introduces bipartisan guest worker bill Overnight Energy: Murkowski, Manchin unveil major energy bill | Lawmakers grill EPA chief over push to slash agency's budget | GOP lawmaker accuses Trump officials of 'playing politics' over Yucca Mountain MORE (R-Wash.) is a possibility, too, but he’s not as well known a figure in the Capitol as Cole or Burgess. And there’s a question of whether he could go toe-to-toe with incoming Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), who was first elected in 1996.

Before legislation heads to the House floor, it must first pass the Rules Committee, which decides how long the chamber will debate the bill, who gets to debate and which amendments get a vote.

Part of the reason McCarthy, the incoming minority leader, is facing limited options is because Republicans lost the House last month. That means the GOP’s numbers on the powerful panel will be cut in half — from eight to likely four — after Democrats officially take over the majority next month.

It’s unlikely that McCarthy would tap someone from outside the committee who has zero Rules experience.

Other folks on Rules are moving on to other jobs. Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsWarnock raises almost M in Georgia Senate race in second quarter Comer tapped to serve as top Republican on House Oversight Doug Collins leads Kelly Loeffler by 2 points in Georgia Senate race MORE (R-Ga.) can’t serve as ranking member of Rules because he won the job as top Republican on the Judiciary Committee.

Another Rules member, Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump lays low as approval hits 18-month low House panel votes to constrain Afghan drawdown, ask for assessment on 'incentives' to attack US troops Overnight Defense: House panel votes to ban Confederate flag on all Pentagon property | DOD report says Russia working to speed US withdrawal from Afghanistan | 'Gang of Eight' to get briefing on bounties Thursday MORE (R-Wyo.), just won a seat on McCarthy’s leadership team, as GOP Conference chairwoman, and would not want a second high-profile, time-consuming job.

And Rep. Bradley ByrneBradley Roberts ByrneHouse panel votes against curtailing Insurrection Act powers after heated debate Overnight Defense: Pentagon chief says he opposes invoking Insurrection Act for protests | White House dodges on Trump's confidence in Esper | 'Angry and appalled' Mattis scorches Trump Republicans stand by Esper after public break with Trump MORE (R-Ala.) is gearing up for a likely Senate bid in 2020.

Most of the ranking member positions were selected by the GOP Steering Committee last week.

But McCarthy, by virtue of his position as incoming GOP leader, gets to handpick the top Republican on Rules, sometimes referred to as the “Speaker’s Committee” because of how closely its chairman and ranking member work with the top Democratic and Republican leaders.

The other key decision for McCarthy to make before the new Congress kicks off Jan. 3 is to select the top Republican on the House Ethics Committee. It’s unclear if Rep. Susan BrooksSusan Wiant BrooksDemocrat Christina Hale and Republican Victoria Spartz to face off in House race in Indiana Key races to watch in Tuesday's primaries The Hill's Campaign Report: More Republican women are running for House seats MORE (Ind.) would want to stay another two years leading that panel for the Republicans, but only two of 19 GOP ranking members named so far are women.  

Last week, McCarthy tapped Rep. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisCelebrating our freedoms and counting all military votes this November The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Rep. Rodney Davis says most important thing White House can do on COVID-19 is give consistent messaging; US new cases surpass 50k for first time Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Rep. Rodney Davis MORE (Ill.) as the top Republican on the House Administration Committee and decided to keep fellow California Republican Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesVoters must strongly reject the president's abuses by voting him out this November Sunday shows preview: With coronavirus cases surging, lawmakers and health officials weigh in Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill banning federal government use of facial recognition tech | House lawmakers roll out legislation to establish national cyber director | Top federal IT official to step down MORE, a close Donald Trump ally, as the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee.