Congressional Musical Chairs

You want to talk about change?  Well, there would be big time change in the Congress if the Republicans take over at least the House of Representatives in the November elections.

Hundreds of Democratic staffers would be tossed out on the curb, and dozens of lawmakers would go from being called the "ranking member" on a committee or subcommittee to "Mr. Chairman."

Let's take a quick look at how things could change in terms of committee chairs.

Agriculture - Rep. Colin Peterson (D-MN) would be out and Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) would be in this position, which holds sway not only over Farm policy, but also food stamps.

Appropriations - Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) is the top Republican on this panel.  Current Chairman Rep. David Obey (D-WI) is not running for re-election.  There have been some rumblings that Lewis might be challenged, but we'll see what happens after the election.

Armed Services - California would also win this panel, as Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) is the top Republican who would likely become Chairman.  Current chair Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO) is fighting desperately to win another term right now.

Budget - One would think that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) would be the Chairman if the GOP wins; Rep. John Spratt (D-SC) is like Ike Skelton above, fighting for another term in office.

Education - Rep. John Kline (R-MN) is in line to be the next Chair if Republicans take charge, replacing a key ally of Speaker Pelosi, Rep. George Miller (D-CA).

Energy & Commerce - Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) is first in line, but he had some issues last year when he "apologized" to the BP CEO.  Also, Barton challenged Rep. John Boehner for GOP leader a few years back, so it's possible Barton might not be a slam dunk.  Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) would be out as Chairman if the Democrats lose power.

Financial Services - This committee is another one that might not follow seniority, as Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL) has not thrilled many in his leadership as ranking Republican.  If the Democrats lose, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) would lose this Chairmanship.

Foreign Affairs - Next in line to chair this panel would be Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), who has quietly risen through the ranks from South Florida.  She would replace Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) if the GOP wins.

Homeland Security - Rep. Peter King (R-NY) would be GOP Chairman of this panel if Republicans win enough seats, replacing Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS).

House Administration - Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA) is in line to be Chair of this committee, but he has his hands full with his re-election bid.  The current Chair is Rep. Robert Brady (D-PA).  This position is often called the "Mayor" of Capitol Hill.

Judiciary - Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) would have the inside line on this committee if the Republicans take charge; Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) would be out.

Natural Resources - Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA) is the top Republican on this panel.  He would certainly do things differently that current Chair Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV).

Oversight - One can expect a lot of hearings and investigations on this panel if Republicans take charge, and they would be led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA).  The current chair is Rep. Ed Towns (D-NY).

Rules - Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) is the likely Republican to chair this panel, maybe the most powerful committee in all of the Congress because it determines how bills are considered on the House floor.  Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) would be out as Chair.

Science - Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) would be the top Republican on this panel, replacing Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN).  

Small Business - Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) is the top Republican on this committee, and would be the likely choice to replace Rep. Nydia Velasquez (D-NY) as Chair.

Transportation - Rep. John Mica (R-FL) would become Chairman of this wide-ranging committee; Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN) is the current Chair.

Veterans' Affairs - Florida could gain another committee chairmanship on this panel, as Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) would be in line to take over from Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) if the GOP takes charge

Ways and Means - Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) is the top Republican on this powerful panel, which is responsible for all tax measures in the House;  Camp would replace Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI), who is currently standing in for Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY)

So, that would be the Republican roster - if the GOP wins enough seats and gets control of the U.S. House.

For those scoring at home, California could have four Chairs, Florida would have three, along with Texas.

One thing we haven't factored into the equation is whether Republicans might consider cutting the number of committees.  They did that after the 1994 elections as a way to save money and re-organize the Congress.

It wouldn't surprise me to see some tinkering like that if the GOP is calling the shots.

But let's see the results tomorrow before we go down that road. You want to talk about change?  Well, there would be big time change in the Congress if the Republicans take over at least the House of Representatives in the November elections. Hundreds of Democratic staffers would be tossed out on the curb, and dozens of lawmakers would go from being ...

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