Rep. Steve Womack said to have 'inside track' on key gavel

Rep. Steve Womack said to have 'inside track' on key gavel
© Greg Nash

House Republicans next week will pick their new Budget Committee chairman, the third to occupy the post in the past year.

The Republican Steering Committee, a powerful panel of leadership allies led by Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanDems fight to protect Mueller amid Rosenstein rumors Jordan wants Rosenstein to testify before House Judiciary Committee Kamala Harris calls for Senate to protect Mueller probe as Rosenstein faces potential dismissal MORE (R-Wis.), will meet Tuesday behind closed doors to select someone to succeed Budget Chairwoman Diane BlackDiane Lynn BlackTrump’s endorsements cement power but come with risks The Hill's Morning Report — Trump optimistic about GOP’s midterm prospects as Republicans fret Women poised to take charge in Dem majority MORE (R), who is stepping down from the post to focus on her 2018 bid for Tennessee governor.

Rep. Steve WomackStephen (Steve) Allen WomackBudget chairs press appropriators on veterans spending Senate chairman urges move to two-year budgetary process On The Money: Senate passes first 2019 spending bill | Trump hits Harley-Davidson in tariffs fight | Mnuchin rips report of investment restrictions | Justices side with American Express in antitrust case MORE (R-Ark.), a leadership ally who was part of the 2010 class that took back the majority, is the favorite, GOP Steering Committee members and other sources said.

Womack himself is a member of the Steering Committee.

Two other Republicans who were part of the 2010 class — former Republican Study Committee (RSC) Chairman Rob WoodallWilliam (Rob) Robert WoodallCook moves status of 6 House races as general election sprint begins 2 women win Georgia Dem runoffs, extending streak for female candidates Bourdeaux wins Georgia Dem runoff, in latest win by female candidates MORE (R-Ga.) and Rep. Bill JohnsonWilliam (Bill) Leslie JohnsonOvernight Energy: Trump pick to lead mining regulator withdraws | Watchdog questions ethics of ,000 in Zinke concert tickets | House votes to ease natural gas exports Greens win court case seeking stronger air pollution rules for brick makers Overnight Defense: VA pick breezes through confirmation hearing | House votes to move on defense bill negotiations | Senate bill would set 'stringent' oversight on North Korea talks MORE (R-Ohio) — also are vying for the Budget gavel.

“Womack has the inside track,” said a senior GOP aide who is familiar with the Budget panel.

The 32-member Steering Committee, which is made up of the GOP leadership team and regional representatives, will also choose someone to replace Rep. Pat TiberiPatrick (Pat) Joseph TiberiHow the Trump tax law passed: Breaking the gridlock  AP: Balderson wins hotly contested Ohio special election House Dems to invest in South Carolina race MORE (R-Ohio) on the influential Ways and Means Committee. Tiberi is resigning from Congress on Jan. 15 to take a private sector job.

Steering Committee members also said the future of Appropriations Chairman Rodney FrelinghuysenRodney Procter FrelinghuysenBiden postpones campaign visit for Stacey Abrams: report Trump endorses Republican candidate in key NJ House race On The Money: Lawmakers get deal to avoid shutdown | House panel approves 'tax cuts 2.0' bill | Jobless claims hold steady near 49-year low MORE (R-N.J.) could be discussed at the private meeting. Leaders of the conservative Republican Study Committee have been furious at the moderate Appropriations chair for voting against the GOP tax overhaul. RSC Chairman Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerOn The Money: Midterms to shake up House finance panel | Chamber chief says US not in trade war | Mulvaney moving CFPB unit out of DC | Conservatives frustrated over big spending bills Conservatives left frustrated as Congress passes big spending bills Trump's Puerto Rico tweets spark backlash MORE (R-N.C.) has personally urged Ryan to strip Frelinghuysen of his gavel.

But several GOP sources said there probably is not the political appetite on the Steering Committee to move against Frelinghuysen, who is already one of Democrats' top 2018 targets.

“It might get discussed, but I doubt there's the will to do that,” one Steering Committee member told The Hill.

The next Budget chairman is expected to play an integral role in shaping the GOP’s 2018 agenda.

Ryan has suggested Republicans could use the budget reconciliation process this year to pass welfare or entitlement reforms. To do that, however, Republicans will need to craft and pass identical budget resolutions in both the House and Senate — a feat many in the party see as difficult to achieve in a tough election year.

A year ago, Womack had vied to become a powerful Appropriations “cardinal,” the chairman of an Appropriations subcommittee, but that job instead went to Rep. Kevin YoderKevin Wayne YoderMother used in ad attacking Kansas Dem candidate is state GOP official To save asylum seekers we must save our immigration courts GOP super PAC hits Dem House hopeful as 'Pelosi liberal' in new Kansas ad MORE (R-Kansas), who is very close with GOP leadership.

Now, there is a feeling among Steering Committee members that it’s Womack’s time.

However, sources raised questions about whether Womack a year from now would want to trade up his Budget gavel for another Appropriations subcommittee chairmanship, which controls billions of dollars in spending. Rep. Charlie DentCharles (Charlie) Wieder DentGOP House candidate placed on leave from longtime position after sexual misconduct allegation Election handicapper moves GOP leader's race to 'toss-up' The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Pa.), who leads the Appropriations subcommittee on military construction and veterans affairs, is not seeking reelection this year.

That would mean yet more change for the Budget Committee.

In January 2017, Rep. Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PriceWhite House officials discussing potential replacements for FEMA chief: report Overnight Health Care: CBO finds bill delaying parts of ObamaCare costs B | Drug CEO defends 400 percent price hike | HHS declares health emergency ahead of hurricane HHS should look into Azar's close ties to the drug industry MORE (R-Ga.) relinquished the Budget gavel to become President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Republican threatens to push for Rosenstein impeachment unless he testifies Judge suggests Trump’s tweet about Stormy Daniels was ‘hyperbole’ not defamation Rosenstein faces Trump showdown MORE’s Health and Human Services secretary, though he only lasted about eight months. Black took the reins of the Budget panel, passing the budget that helped smooth the way for the tax overhaul. But she announced she’s handing over the gavel this month as she turns her focus to the Tennessee governor’s race.

If Womack wins the Budget gavel, then steps aside to become an Appropriations cardinal, “that would be the fourth Budget chairman in two years,” the senior GOP aide said.