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Comer tapped to serve as top Republican on House Oversight

Rep. James ComerJames (Jamie) R. ComerCalls grow for 9/11-style panel to probe Capitol attack House GOP raise concerns over Biden's top Cabinet nominees Sackler family points fingers at Purdue Pharma during House hearing on opioids MORE (R-Ky.) was tapped Monday to take over as the top Republican on the powerful House Oversight and Reform Committee from former Rep. Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Inauguration Day Trump leaves White House, promises to be back in 'some form' LIVE INAUGURATION COVERAGE: Biden signs executive orders; press secretary holds first briefing MORE (R-N.C.), who is now President TrumpDonald TrumpNYT: Rep. Perry played role in alleged Trump plan to oust acting AG Arizona GOP censures top state Republicans McCain, Flake and Ducey Biden and UK prime minister discuss NATO, multilateralism during call MORE's chief of staff.

Comer edged out Rep. Jody HiceJody Brownlow HiceGeorgia elections chief refutes election claims in letter to Congress READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results Pence 'welcomes' efforts of lawmakers to 'raise objections' to Electoral College results MORE (R-Ga.), the most senior member on the panel and one of the leading voices in the conservative House Freedom Caucus, and Rep. Mark GreenMark GreenREAD: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results Here are the Republicans planning to challenge the Electoral College results Republicans press FBI for briefing on efforts by Chinese government operatives to gain influence with lawmakers MORE (R-Tenn.), a first-term member and veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The Kentucky Republican is slated to fill the seat previously held by Meadows, who vacated the role after he was named White House chief of staff earlier this year.

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Comer, a second-term lawmaker, has been an active member on the Oversight and Reform Committee, serving as the top Republican on its Subcommittee on the Environment. Before Congress, he served as the agriculture commissioner of Kentucky. 

The Oversight and Reform Committee — the main investigative panel in the lower chamber — is one of the most influential committees in Congress, holding jurisdiction over a broad range of issues and one of just three standing committees that holds the authority to authorize subpoenas under House rules.

Comer was elected to the position by the House Republican Steering Committee, which consists of top Republican lawmakers and is tasked with determining committee assignments.

Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyHouse GOP leader says he has 'concerns' over Cheney's impeachment vote McCarthy says he told Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene he disagreed with her impeachment articles against Biden Cheney tests Trump grip on GOP post-presidency MORE (R-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseBiden under pressure to deliver more COVID-19 shots Biden's inauguration marked by conflict of hope and fear Scalise bringing Donna Brazile as guest to Biden inauguration MORE (R-La.) hold the most power on the Steering Committee, with McCarthy counting for four votes and Scalise counting for two; the rest of its 29 members are allotted one vote each.

Comer said he is ready to hit the ground running as he assumes his new role. 

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“I just made the pitch that I'll be focused like a laser on waste, fraud and abuse. I'm not out there to try to focus on throwing red meat and one-liners to try to get in the press. I'm focused on trying to get real government reform. And I'm gonna do everything in my ability to defend anyone who's been mistreated or falsely accused on the Oversight Committee,” he told The Hill in an interview.  

“I believe our role should be to seek the truth and that's what I'm going to do as ranking member and I'm blessed to have a great committee — that's a committee filled with a lot of fighters and a lot of institutional knowledge.”

Comer said since being selected to assume the role, he has already spoken with Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn MaloneyDemocrats urge tech giants to change algorithms that facilitate spread of extremist content Hillicon Valley: Biden names acting chairs to lead FCC, FTC | Facebook to extend Trump ban pending review | Judge denies request for Amazon to immediately restore Parler Judge denies request for Amazon to immediately restore Parler MORE (D-N.Y.) and is the process of setting up meetings with members to discuss future plans as he settles into his new position. 

“I'm obviously very excited, I appreciate the confidence the Steering Committee had in me. We're busy setting meetings now with members of the Oversight Committee, I'm going to their offices and we'll sit down, I’ll take notes, listen to everybody on the committee,” he also told The Hil.  

“I’ve already met with Chairwoman Maloney on the floor. We had a great very cordial conversation about moving forward and trying to see if there are any areas where we can have some type of bipartisan agreement. But, you know, replacing Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanBiden's inauguration marked by conflict of hope and fear The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Inauguration Day McCarthy won't back effort to oust Cheney MORE, I feel like the poor guy that's gonna be the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots replacing Tom Brady, but, we're excited and ready to go.”

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Since Comer is assuming the position more than halfway through the 116th Congress, he will be eligible to serve as the top Republican on the committee for an additional three full terms under the House GOP’s rules.

The position has previously been held by some of Trump’s top attack dogs in the House, with GOP members on the panel playing a pivotal role in defending the president during impeachment proceedings.

Meadows was the top Oversight Republican for a very brief period. He assumed the role shortly after Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) was shifted to lead Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee after Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsDrudge congratulates Warnock, says Ann Coulter should have been GOP candidate Warnock defeats Loeffler in Georgia Senate runoff Warnock says he needs to win 'by comfortable margin' because 'funny things go on' MORE (R-Ga.), the former ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, stepped down from the position after announcing his Senate bid in February.

In addition to choosing the new ranking member of the Oversight Committee, the Steering Committee opted to place Rep. Gary PalmerGary James PalmerOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Nine, including former Michigan governor, charged over Flint water crisis | Regulator finalizes rule forcing banks to serve oil, gun companies | Trump admin adds hurdle to increase efficiency standards for furnaces, water heaters READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results McCarthy woos Freedom Caucus with eye on Speakership MORE (R-Ala.) back on the panel. Palmer, the House GOP's policy chairman, previously sat on the committee during the 115th Congress.

Three freshman lawmakers that were recently elected in special elections also received their committee assignments.

Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Calif.) was appointed to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology; Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Wis.) was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee and the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology; and Rep. Chris Jacobs (R-N.Y.) was placed on the House Committee on Agriculture and the House Budget Committee.

-- Updated at 6:23 p.m.