House Republicans have begun eyeing Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s gavel in the event the Wisconsin Republican is elected vice president on Nov. 6.
“There are several that are interested,” says Oklahoma Republican James Lankford, who sits on the panel. “Obviously, the budget has driven so much of what we’ve done in the last two years that there’s a renewed sense that things can drive through the Budget Committee.”
Among the committee members declaring their interest in succeeding a potential Vice President Ryan, should Mitt Romney win the presidential election, is Rep. John Campbell of California. “I would hope to finish what he started,” Campbell said in an interview.
So too would Rep. Scott Garrett of New Jersey, the panel’s current vice chairman, who made a point of noting that “I probably have seniority over everybody in the conference.” That’s partly because almost half of the 22 Republicans on the committee are freshmen.
It’s possible that a replacement could come from elsewhere, as when Democrats brought in Maryland’s Chris Van Hollen — who is close to Nancy Pelosi of California, the party’s leader in the House — to fill the spot left when John Spratt of South Carolina lost his re-election bid in 2010. “I’d think about it,” said Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, “but my focus, truly, is going all over the state of Ohio talking about why we need to elect Mitt Romney.” The RSC chairman serves only one term, so Jordan will be looking for new legislative opportunities in the 113th Congress.
And what if the Romney-Ryan ticket loses? It’s possible, though some lawmakers say unlikely, that the Wisconsin congressman could lose his perch as the panel’s top Republican because he will have served three terms — the maximum under party rules — as the committee’s chairman or ranking member.
Leaders can waive that rule.
“If he does not win, and he wants to come back as Budget chair, then he absolutely ought to get a waiver,” said Campbell. “I know that we don’t often give waivers for this, but if you give a waiver for special cases, Paul is as special of a case as there is.”
From Bloomberg Government’s Congress Tracker