Tea Party freshmen get high-profile committee slots

posted at 10:55 am on December 13, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

If the assignment of House committee chairs provided a letdown to Tea Party activists, especially on Appropriations with Hal Rogers, the assignment of newly-open seats on critical committees looks more like a win.  Twenty-two freshmen Representatives have won seats on Appropriations, Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Financial Services, and most of those won their elections with heavy Tea Party backing:

Most of the 22 House Republican freshmen-to-be selected to sit on much-coveted, A-list committees won their races with Tea Party backing.

The House Republican Steering Committee last week added the incoming members to the rosters of four powerful committees: Appropriations, Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce and Financial Services.

House Republicans believe they were swept into power on Nov. 2 by a powerful anti-Washington wave of voter frustration over the amount of federal spending and a stagnant job market.

Speaker-to-be John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his fellow GOP leaders and representatives on the House Steering Committee ensured that members of the largest GOP freshmen class in 70 years were given spots on influential panels.

The process of assigning seats is a spoils-dividing process for a new majority, one complicated by the fact that not every committee split between Democrats and Republicans has been finalized.  The process on the other side of the aisle will be decidedly less pleasant, although assisted by the large exodus of their members in the midterms.  The likely effect of both assignment processes will be to polarize the committees a little more as the GOP selects more conservatives while moderate Democrats have become even more of a rarity in the House.

Normally, freshmen don’t get the “plum” committee assignments, thanks to a seniority system that solidifies the power of existing leadership.  Republicans first started chipping away at that structure after the 1994 election by term-limiting committee chairs.  This is perhaps a cousin to that process, adding fresh blood and the Tea Party perspective on the most critical committees to domestic policy.  Interestingly, this impulse seems to have escaped assignments to Armed Services and Foreign Affairs, at least at the moment, perhaps an acknowledgment that Tea Party interests in both areas didn’t diverge from tradition Republican policy in those arenas.

One important committee should be watched: Rules.  That committee controls the bill-making process and will be chaired by David Dreier, a reliable conservative.  John Boehner has promised to open it up by having cameras installed for C-SPAN to televise committee proceedings and making the process transparent.  It would be nice to see some freshmen on this committee to make sure that accountability for process as well as result is achieved.


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Let me guess the ‘rats who will be on the committees: Rangel, Waxman, Pelosi, Schumer, Reid, Waters, Boxer. The same old faces who have been so effective in creating the 40 year demorat majority.

Bishop on December 13, 2010 at 10:58 AM

This could get interesting.

Dark-Star on December 13, 2010 at 10:59 AM

I didn’t see Allen West? Maybe I missed it? Or maybe he will be Speaker?

Dingbat63 on December 13, 2010 at 11:06 AM

I would love to see bills more focused, no place to hide pork.

Cindy Munford on December 13, 2010 at 11:10 AM

This could get interesting.

Dark-Star on December 13, 2010 at 10:59 AM

indeed

cmsinaz on December 13, 2010 at 11:10 AM

Dingbat63 on December 13, 2010 at 11:06 AM

Can’t find any info on that right off, but here’s the staff he picked:

Chief of Staff: Jonathan Blyth
Deputy Chief of Staff\Legislative Director: Josh Grodin
Communications Director: Angela Sachitano
Legislative Correspondent: Taryn Dorfman

Dark-Star on December 13, 2010 at 11:10 AM

While it’s good that these newbies, hopefully still fired up with good conservative intent, will fill important and influential positions, it’s important to keep watch on them and the more established reps to make sure they don’t stray off the path and catch RINOism. We will need to keep their feet to the fire and not be bashful about admonishing them lest they succumb to wiles of the DC cocktail party set.

shmendrick on December 13, 2010 at 11:12 AM

West needs to be on the Armed Services. I don’t think someone with “actual” experience should be left off.

ny59giants on December 13, 2010 at 11:12 AM

Vote them out, keep voting them out, until they are all gone, then keep them out.

tarpon on December 13, 2010 at 11:19 AM

Normally, freshmen don’t get the “plum” committee assignments, thanks to a seniority system that solidifies the power of existing leadership. Republicans first started chipping away at that structure after the 1994 election by term-limiting committee chairs. This is perhaps a cousin to that process, adding fresh blood and the Tea Party perspective on the most critical committees to domestic policy.

The “seniority” system ensures that only Reps. from very safe districts (where they are repeatedly re-elected) get the “plum” assignments, meaning that knee-jerk liberals become committee chairmen when Democrats have the majority, and to be replaced by strong conservatives when Republicans have the majority. Getting some Tea Party freshmen, who won close elections, onto key committees (even at low ranks) will help make the committees more responsive to the voters.

Of course, this is a good time to introduce freshmen to these committees–since Republicans will have 55.6% of the total seats in the House, they should have quite a few new committee slots to fill.

Steve Z on December 13, 2010 at 11:20 AM

Still seems like table scraps compared to Prince Pork Hal Rogers getting appropriations chair and Fred Lightbulbs Upton getting energy chair

Raisedbywolves on December 13, 2010 at 11:29 AM

Of course they did. The old lot of Republicans don’t want to be blamed for anything, or come under scrutiny.

They want the new guys to also be the Fall guys.

portlandon on December 13, 2010 at 11:30 AM

The establishment GOP are failures looking for a place to happen. The newbies haven’t been exposed to the beat-down the Old Guard Republicans have let been administered to them by Obama, Pelosi and Reid. One election is not enough. With leaders we have in the GOP, this may take awhile.

volsense on December 13, 2010 at 12:03 PM

One important committee should be watched: Rules.

Bingo! The Rules Committee is where the shape of the legislative “battle space” is determined, and many of the issues are predetermined to be DOA or alive & well. It’s the first trial for the idea of eliminating earmarks and generally opening up the system to anyone who wants to watch.
If reform is real, the Rules Committee is going to be the first place it happens – or not!

Lew on December 13, 2010 at 12:25 PM

Vote them out, keep voting them out, until they are all gone, then keep them out.

Don’t stop. Don’t slow down. Keep after them. Hold their feet to the fire till their toes fall off. They will screw us, Dems and Repubs alike. Clean house (pun intended).

Mr. Grump on December 13, 2010 at 12:31 PM

Of course they did. The old lot of Republicans don’t want to be blamed for anything, or come under scrutiny.

They want the new guys to also be the Fall guys.

portlandon on December 13, 2010 at 11:30 AM

+1000

quiz1 on December 13, 2010 at 3:16 PM