Bloomberg: Elections-Focused Panel Set to Shift Gears in Republican Hands
Washington, November 17, 2022
Panel GOP gets new leader after Rodney Davis’ primary loss
New top Democrat likely as Zoe Lofgren may take another role
Republicans are poised to use their majority next year on the House Administration Committee to focus on voter identification and other election integrity measures, while abandoning Democratic-backed efforts to expand voting rights and campaign finance transparency.
The panel could also pivot to investigate Democrats who established the select committee probing the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. That move was predicted by Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), the panel’s top Republican in the current Congress. He won’t be in Congress after losing a GOP primary but his suggestion to investigate the Jan. 6 investigators could live on.
Davis’ replacement as top Republican on the House Administration Committee remains a question. Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), who was contacted by the Jan. 6 committee over a Capitol tour he led before the attack, is next in line in seniority.
The only other Republican on the panel—Bryan Steil (Wis.)—could also take the spot. He has been the ranking member of the panel’s Elections Subcommittee and Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) picked him to lead the “Restoring the People’s House” transition team after the election.
Panel membership is hand-picked by top party leaders and is heavily skewed toward the majority party. In the 117th Congress, it’s composed of six Democrats and three Republicans—meaning there will be several GOP spots to fill next year with the party in the majority.
The committee oversees campaign finance and other election laws, as well as the internal operations of the House. Its chairman has been referred to as the “mayor of Capitol Hill.”
New Top Democrat?
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), a veteran lawmaker from the San Francisco Bay area and an ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), has been the chair of the panel since 2019. She’s also a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee and the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, where the chair, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), is retiring.
Lofgren could take the top spot on the Science Committee, leaving an opening for Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) to become the top Democrat on House Administration, though he said he’d run to be ranking member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
Davis (R-Ill.), who took the top Republican spot on the committee in 2019, backed the House Republican leadership during his tenure. He lost a Republican primary in Illinois after he voted to certify President Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election and backed a bill (H.R. 3233) that would have established a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot. He voted against a subsequent resolution that created the House panel.
The House Administration Committee played a key role in recent years drafting and passing Democratic-backed elections legislation, such as H.R. 1, that was repeatedly blocked by Senate filibusters. The wide-ranging measure sought to restore voting rights for felons, create a grant program to help states strengthen election systems, establish online and automatic voting registration, and create a voluntary public funding system for congressional candidates who receive small donations.
Lofgren and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who serve together on the Jan. 6 committee, drafted a House-passed bill (H.R. 8873) to update the 1887 Electoral Count Act governing the presidential vote-counting process. They’re working to meld that bill with a Senate version (S. 4573) for consideration in the lame-duck session of the current Congress. The measure would make it harder for members of Congress or state officials to contest the 2024 election results.
The panel also oversees the Federal Election Commission, the agency that enforces campaign finance laws but has been hobbled by partisan gridlock. The FEC has lacked a quorum of commissioners for long periods but was restored to a full complement of six in late 2020.
The Election Assistance Commission also is in the committee’s jurisdiction and could come in for renewed oversight regarding distribution of grants to help state and local officials administer the voting process.
The House Administration Committee could play a role in implementing remaining recommendations from the bipartisan House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, which has focused on improving and retaining congressional staff and upgrading technology.
The modernization panel, which was created when Democrats took control of the House in January 2019, meets today to approve a recommendation to create a subcommittee on the House Administration Committee to continue its work.
With assistance from Emily Wilkins
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