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Comer tapped to serve as top Republican on House Oversight

Rep. James ComerJames (Jamie) R. ComerHillicon Valley: Department of Justice sues Google | House Republicans push for tech bias hearing | Biden drawing more Twitter engagement for first time House Republicans push VA for details on recent data breach House panel advances bill to ban Postal Service leaders from holding political positions 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 Randall MeadowsCritics blast 'two-faced liar' Miles Taylor after revelation as NYT 'anonymous' author Ex-DHS official reveals himself as 'Anonymous' CNN host presses Trump spokesman: 'Do you think the pandemic has ended?' MORE (R-N.C.), who is now President TrumpDonald John TrumpHillary Clinton responds to Chrissy Teigen tweet: 'I love you back' Police called after Florida moms refuse to wear face masks at school board meeting about mask policy Supreme Court rejects Trump effort to shorten North Carolina mail-ballot deadline MORE's chief of staff.

Comer edged out Rep. Jody HiceJody Brownlow HiceHillicon Valley: Department of Justice sues Google | House Republicans push for tech bias hearing | Biden drawing more Twitter engagement for first time House Republicans push VA for details on recent data breach IRS closes in on final phase of challenging tax season 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 GreenDemocrats unveil bill creating panel to gauge president's 'capacity' On The Money: House panel pulls Powell into partisan battles | New York considers hiking taxes on the rich | Treasury: Trump's payroll tax deferral won't hurt Social Security House panel pulls Powell into partisan battles over pandemic 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 Owen McCarthyMcCarthy urges networks not to call presidential race until 'every polling center has closed' House Republicans slated to hold leadership election on Nov. 17 Rocky Mountain National Park closed due to expanding Colorado wildfire MORE (R-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseHouse Republicans slated to hold leadership election on Nov. 17 McCarthy faces pushback from anxious Republicans over interview comments Jordan vows to back McCarthy as leader even if House loses more GOP seats 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 Bosher MaloneyTrump, House lawyers return to court in fight over subpoena for financial records Safeguarding US elections by sanctioning Russian sovereign debt Fears grow of voter suppression in Texas 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 JordanHouse Judiciary Republicans mockingly tweet 'Happy Birthday' to Hillary Clinton after Barrett confirmation Sunday shows preview: Trump, Biden gear up for final sprint to Election Day McCarthy faces pushback from anxious Republicans over interview comments 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 CollinsThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden's big battleground | Trump and Harris hit the trail in Arizona | Turnout surges among new voters Biden takes 5-point lead over Trump in Georgia in new poll House Judiciary Republicans mockingly tweet 'Happy Birthday' to Hillary Clinton after Barrett confirmation 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 PalmerComer tapped to serve as top Republican on House Oversight Top GOP post on Oversight draws stiff competition Trump takes pulse of GOP on Alabama Senate race 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.