Lawmakers Lining Up to Take House Oversight Seat

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Monday, 10 Mar 2014 08:38 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Republicans are lining up to take Rep. Darrell Issa's seat as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, but he's not ready to give up the gavel just yet.

The California lawmaker says he should be able to stay on as committee head, despite term limits for two more years to finish out, "with continuity," President Barack Obama's final two terms in office, Politico  reports.

"I've made no bones about it: I would certainly think that I might be an appropriate candidate for just two more years to finish up," said Issa, who may ask House leaders to waive the rules so he can serve for two more years as the committee leader. "But that's a decision of the steering committee."

A growing list of potential candidates is lining up their campaigns for Issa's seat, which is arguably one of the most powerful positions in the House. The Oversight committee chairman has the power to order subpoenas and investigations and is considered the president's chief congressional foe.

Issa's protégé, Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz, is building support among his colleagues for the seat and has made no secret of the fact that he wants to replace Issa. In addition, Ohio Reps. Jim Jordan and Mike Turner have said they want the spot, and veteran Florida Rep. John Mica says he'd be best for the job because of his experience.

"I put my flag in the ground early; I'm not trying to be coy," Chaffetz said. "I'm being direct that I fully intend to put my name in to be the next chairman of the Oversight Committee. It's something I've wanted to do before I even got to Congress. The Oversight Committee has been my No. 1 choice every single term."

Chaffetz, who is in his third term in office, is working to gain favor with Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and other top GOP lawmakers who assign the committee chairmanships.

He has been working in Colorado, New Hampshire, and Iowa in Republican fundraisers, saying he wants to show how he takes time out of his own schedule to help Republicans as the 2014 midterm elections near.

But Mica, who has been in Congress since 1992, says his experience is what House Republicans need to finish out the Obama administration. However, he said now is not the time to campaign against Issa.

Mica told The Hill that there are elections to consider even before committee chairmanships can be assigned.

"There's no race," Mica said. First you have to get re-elected, then you have to see what the [makeup of] leadership is, the [Republican] Steering Committee, and all of that. So it's a long ways away."

Issa has had a strong record as Oversight committee leader, including helping to expose the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative groups during the 2012 election cycle. He's also pushed hard on investigating the Benghazi, Libya terror attacks.

However, his tenure has not been without controversy. Last week, members of the Congressional Black Caucus demanded House GOP leaders strip Issa of his chairmanship after he abruptly adjourned a hearing of the House Oversight Committee and told staff to turn off the microphone of Oversight's top Democrat, Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, a caucus member.

Boehner, though, praised Issa, saying he's done an effective job chairing the Oversight committee, and the caucus' demand was denied.

For his part, Chaffetz has gained a great deal of national attention as a member of the Oversight committee, and says he has the "greatest respect" for Issa who has been "a great mentor."

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