GOP struggles to find right Republican for Rules

Incoming House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyOmar says US should reconsider aid to Israel I'm not a Nazi, I'm just a dude: What it's like to be the other Steve King Trump finds consistent foil in 'Squad' 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 ColeTo fix retirement, we need to understand it On The Money: Trump banks on Fed, China to fuel 2020 economy | Judge orders parties to try to reach deal in lawsuit over Trump tax returns | Warren targets corporate power with plan to overhaul trade policy Lawmakers point to entitlements when asked about deficits MORE (Okla.) is the most senior Republican on the panel after Rules Chairman Pete SessionsPeter Anderson SessionsHillicon Valley — Presented by CTIA and America's wireless industry — Lawmaker sees political payback in fight over 'deepfakes' measure | Tech giants to testify at hearing on 'censorship' claims | Google pulls the plug on AI council Lawmaker alleges political payback in failed 'deepfakes' measure As Russia collusion fades, Ukrainian plot to help Clinton emerges 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 GrangerLobbying world House approves bill increasing federal worker pay House approves 3 billion spending package 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 BurgessHouse approves bill raising minimum wage to per hour The 27 Republicans who voted with Democrats to block Trump from taking military action against Iran GOP rep: Children are free to leave migrant camps at 'any time' 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 WoodallHouse Democrats target 2020 GOP incumbents in new ad The House Republicans and Democrats not seeking reelection in 2020 House GOP fears retirement wave will lead to tsunami 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 NewhouseHouse passes bill to protect 'Dreamers' Immigrant Heritage Month should spur congressional action to fix immigration laws Thirty-four GOP members buck Trump on disaster bill 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 CollinsThe United States broken patent system is getting worse Democratic Women's Caucus calls for investigation into Epstein plea deal Activist groups push House Judiciary leaders to end mass phone data collection 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 CheneyDick Cheney to attend fundraiser supporting Trump reelection: report Steve King says 'left-wing media' and GOP leadership owe him apology after rape, incest comments GOP memo deflects some gun questions to 'violence from the left' 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 ByrneGOP Senate candidate 'pissed off' at Trump over health care for veterans House GOP fears retirement wave will lead to tsunami Conservatives call on Pelosi to cancel August recess 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 BrooksHouse Democrats target 2020 GOP incumbents in new ad The House Republicans and Democrats not seeking reelection in 2020 Mellman: Is the DCCC in successful chaos? 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 DavisHouse Democrats targeting six more Trump districts for 2020 House Democrats target 2020 GOP incumbents in new ad Illinois House Republicans call on Trump to not commute Blagojevich's sentence MORE (Ill.) as the top Republican on the House Administration Committee and decided to keep fellow California Republican Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesJuan Williams: Trump, his allies and the betrayal of America Trump expected to nominate Texas GOP lawmaker to replace Dan Coats: report House Republicans claim victory after Mueller hearings MORE, a close Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpFacebook releases audit on conservative bias claims Harry Reid: 'Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list' Recessions happen when presidents overlook key problems MORE ally, as the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee.