Woodall angles for D.C. promotion while facing gaggle of challengers at home

U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga., peaks during a roundtable discussion in 2015. BRANT SANDERLIN/BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM

Credit: Tamar Hallerman

Credit: Tamar Hallerman

U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga., peaks during a roundtable discussion in 2015. BRANT SANDERLIN/BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM

WASHINGTON – Georgia Congressman Rob Woodall is angling to lead the prestigious House Budget Committee, even as he works to hold off seven challengers back home in his Gwinnett-based 7th Congressional District.

The Lawrenceville Republican, now in his fourth term, wants to be the second Georgian to lead the panel in less than a year after Tom Price vacated the position in February to become health secretary.

The gig would land him at the center of fights over taxes, military spending, entitlement programs and potentially a revival of the GOP’s Obamacare repeal effort.

“We just have an opportunity to make a difference,” Woodall said Thursday. “I care much less about who leads and much more about the opportunity that we lead, but I think I’ve got a case to make for why I could help us to move forward better.”

Woodall has been making the rounds with members of the secretive Republican Steering Committee, a group made up of leadership allies, committee chairmen and regional representatives, including Georgia's Tom Graves and Doug Collins. The committee looks at factors such as seniority, voting record and past fundraising.

Woodall said he would want to pursue several major changes to Capitol Hill’s byzantine budget process should he win the chairmanship. That includes shifting Washington from a one- to a two-year budget cycle, requiring federal agencies to justify every dollar in their budget and restoring the reputation of the Congressional Budget Office.

“I don’t have to be a fire and brimstone kind of chairman,” he said. “I can be a bring people together chairman.”

An outgoing yet under-the-radar presence on Capitol Hill, Woodall is competing against at least two other serious contenders for the spot, which is open because current chairwoman Diane Black -- whom Woodall said he backs first and foremost -- is running for Tennessee governor.

Arkansas Republican Steve Womack is more junior than Woodall on the committee but has been seen as an early favorite. It’s unclear when the Steering Committee will make a decision since Black has yet to step down.

The Capitol Hill race comes as Woodall competes for reelection against at least one Republican primary opponent and five Democratic challengers. He's been outraised by Democrats in the last two quarters, a factor that could be taken into account by the Steering Committee.

An unabashed policy wonk, Woodall has positioned himself as a vocal backer of President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill, particularly on economic and transportation issues.