What’s Next for the House Oversight and Reform Committee

November 8, 2019

Following the devastating passing of Congressman Elijah Cummings, a long admired and respected member of Congress, there has been much discussion in Washington about who will fill the important position that he held as Chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. With several members of the committee looking to become Chair, there is currently no degree of certainty as to who it will be. There is, however, a process of succession that Democrats have traditionally followed during times like these, when the Steering and Policy Committee makes a recommendation to the full Democratic Caucus.

Committee seniority is a largely determining factor in this recommendation. On the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is the most senior member of the committee and is also currently serving as its acting Chairwoman. Representing New York’s 14th district, Congresswoman Maloney challenged Congressman Cummings for the position of Oversight chair the last time the position was up for grabs in 2010. She brings an impressive range of experiences and accomplishments as she rounds out her 14th term as a member of Congress, but there is some speculation that members who rank behind her are more favorable due to their experience as subcommittee chairs that are more relevant to the ongoing impeachment proceedings.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton is second in seniority on the committee, but at 82 years old, she is currently serving her fifteenth term. Congressman William Lacy Clay (MO), Congressman Stephen Lynch (MA), and Congressman Gerald Connolly(VA), and Congresswoman Speier (CA)have all been identified as having interest in the position of Chair. Their seniority on the committee makes all of them well positioned for the job. Additionally, Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD), in his second term of committee, has been endorsed by “the squad” including Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, and Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

Massachusetts Congressman Lynch has publicly voiced his intention to campaign for the position. Through a statement he acknowledged the numerous talents of other committee members and their dedication to defending the law and the Constitution. Congressman Lynch’s experience as Chair of the Subcommittee on National Security has elevated his status as a possible contender. As a senior member of the Oversight Committee already, he might just have the type of experience necessary to appeal to the Democratic Caucus. If Congressman Lynch did become Chairman, it would make him the third member of the Massachusetts delegation to head a powerful House committee.

With impeachment proceedings underway in Washington, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform needs a Chairman or Chairwoman who can effectively stand up to the task of investigation and work to get things done. The impressive track record of numerous committee members ensures that whoever is chosen by the Democratic Caucus will do an outstanding job.


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