Comer tapped to serve as top Republican on House Oversight

Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) was tapped Monday to take over as the top Republican on the powerful House Oversight and Reform Committee from former Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who is now President Trump’s chief of staff.

Comer edged out Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.), the most senior member on the panel and one of the leading voices in the conservative House Freedom Caucus, and Rep. Mark Green (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.

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 McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (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. 

“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 Maloney (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 Jordan, 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.”

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 Collins (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 Palmer (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. 

Tags Carolyn Maloney Donald Trump Doug Collins Gary Palmer house committee House Oversight and Reform Committee investigations James Comer Jim Jordan Jody Hice Kentucky Kevin McCarthy Mark Green Mark Meadows oversight Steve Scalise

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