Paul Ryan assumed the Speakership in the House of Representatives promising to restructure the GOP’s leadership structure. In what is the first big move on this front, House Republicans are moving towards removing committee chairmen from the powerful House Republican Steering Committee, the group tasked with making committee assignments and selecting committee chairs.
Shortly after becoming Speaker, Ryan tasked eight of his colleagues to begin making changes to the way the Steering Committee is run. This week, lawmakers have discussed a two-stepped approach.
First, during this Congress, certain committee chairmen who are currently members of the Steering Committee, would be removed from the committee and replaced with members elected by the House Republican Conference. Second, in the next Congress, additional regional representatives would be added to make sure the committee better reflects the Republican conference as a whole.
While the changes have not been finalized, these tentative changes would go a long way toward meeting the demands of conservatives who are seeking to decentralize power in the House.
The Republican Steering Committee has been a frequent target for conservative criticism. House conservatives believe the Steering Committee is simply a tool of the Speaker, which can be used to strip lawmakers who disobey leadership of their committee assignments.
The Steering Committee is made up of 33 House Republicans. The Speaker gets five votes, the Majority leader gets two votes, and all other members have one vote a piece.
Under the plan being discussed, several powerful chairmen would lose their slots. They include Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY), Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX), and Budget Chairman Tom Price (R-GA).
The eight members of the task force created by Speaker Ryan to recommend these changes are Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN), Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Chairman of the Republican Study Committee Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX), House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC), and Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA), a member of the House Freedom Caucus.