Georgia GOP House members land plum assignments in next Congress

WASHINGTON - The Republican takeover of the U.S. House is resulting in some plum assignments for some of Georgia's GOP House members.

When the 112th Congress convenes in January, Georgians will have seats on several of the most powerful committees in Congress, including those that oversee government spending, taxes and financial regulation.

The full roster of congressional committee assignments won't be complete until Democrats make their appointments and the newest Republican House members get their assignments over the next several weeks.

While it looks as if no Georgian will land a coveted chairmanship of the most powerful congressional committees -- those are usually reserved for the most senior members of Congress -- several will be in key positions that could help the state.

"We've got a fairly young team ... but I think we're doing fairly well," said Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Coweta County who, as a member of the House GOP Steering Committee, is helping decide committee assignments for the next Congress.

Among those already announced:

*Republican Rep. Tom Graves of Ranger will be on the Appropriations Committee. Fellow Georgia Reps. Jack Kingston, a Savannah Republican, and Sanford Bishop, an Albany Democrat, also are expected to remain on the committee. Graves' appointment to the powerful panel that doles out federal money was somewhat surprising, since he is a freshman.

*Republican Rep. Tom Price of Roswell was added to the Ways and Means Committee. He'll join Democrat John Lewis of Atlanta on the committee that oversees legislation regarding taxes, Social Security, Medicare and other areas. Price also is chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, which helps set legislative priorities for the GOP.

*Westmoreland was appointed to the Financial Services Committee, a post he and other Georgians wanted given the continued banking industry problems in Georgia. Democratic Rep. David Scott of Atlanta is hoping to remain on that committee as well.

*Republican Rep. Phil Gingrey of Marietta is planning to remain on the Energy and Commerce Committee. Democrat John Barrow of Savannah also serves on that committee.