Normally, becoming chairman of a congressional committee is a big deal, eagerly sought after by ambitious members of the majority party who want to make a public name for themselves.
Not so much anymore, at least concerning the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
That chairmanship is about to become vacant. Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina is the chair presently and has announced that he’s leaving Congress in January when the current term expires. The 53-year-old former federal prosecutor was only in that position eight months.
Before Gowdy, the chairman was Jason Chaffetz of Utah. He resigned from Congress last June.
So, who becomes the new chairman? Who knows?
Uncharacteristically, no Republicans have announced yet they would like the job. Hmmm. The two most senior members of the committee — Tennessee’s John Duncan and California’s Darrell Issa — are among the growing list of GOP members who are retiring like Gowdy.
Why do you suppose?
The main reason is revealing about the new political environment in the Swamp, I mean, Washington. What Republican wants to head a committee charged with oversight of a Republican administration, especially one headed by the current volatile occupant? No one — yet.
Whoever does take on the committee job is likely to concentrate on the second half of its name — Government Reform. Several representatives interviewed by The Hill newspaper said they were not interested. Florida’s Rep. Dennis Ross said he might be, but he’d really want to focus mostly on the reform part.
“We’ve got a lot of reforms we need to address,” he said, “including postal reform. Postal is something that needs to be taken care of.” Uh-huh.
There is plenty of time still. A party committee of leaders and members will pick new chairmen late this year after the Nov. 6 election.
But wait! There’s more. Right now it appears a better than even chance given historical patterns and current indications that Democrats will capture the 24 seats necessary to take back control of the House and give the Speaker’s gavel to Nancy Pelosi.
In that case, the 77-year-old San Franciscan and her septuagenarian aides will decide who becomes chair. And that Republican leadership committee will sentence some member to become the powerless ranking member.