SMALL BIZ? THE WEST/TIM SCOTT CMTE ASSIGNMENTS. Last week, new House Republicans Tim Scott of South Carolina and Allen West of Florida found out their Committee assignments. Tim Scott will serve on the GOP Steering Committee, Small Business and Transportation. Allen West will serve on Armed Services and Small Business.
No black Republican who has ever served in the U.S. House has ever been assigned to the two most powerful committees: Appropriations or Ways & Means.
Depending on your congressional district any committee could be defined as “powerful.” But there are certain committees, particularly the “money” committees, that are undeniably powerful. Other committees are powerful because of their jurisdiction and ability to make trouble and garner huge media attention. Among those are Oversight, Energy and Commerce and Judiciary. One might assume House leadership would have placed Rep-elect Allen West on one of the “media” committees. Whether one agrees with Col. West or not, he clearly has a firebrand star quality and is a fixture on 24-hour cable for a reason. Sarah Palin mini-me performances by Rep-elect. Kristi Noem and Rep. Michelle Bachmann will soon be challenged by West as he joins the 112th Congress.
The most powerful committees in the House are Appropriations (you have a say in trillions in spending and cutting), Ways and Means (you have a say in tax policy), Financial Services (financial regulation, international monetary policy) and, because of what will be a huge budget battle over the next 120 days, the Budget Committee. Three GOP Freshman won spots on Approps: Reps.-elect Kevin Yoder, Alan Nunnelee and Steve Womack. Only two new GOP Freshman won a spot on Ways and Means. Twelve new GOP freshman will be on Financial Services. Four new GOP Freshman will sit on Budget. Tim Scott and Allen West are on none of these.
Energy and Commerce, Judiciary and Education and Labor are also influential. GOP incoming Freshman Cory Gardner, Morgan Griffith, Adam Kinzinger, David McKinley and Mike Pompeo landed on Energy and Commerce — a committee with endless jurisdictional reach. House Financial Services and Education and Labor are quietly powerful though they don’t get huge media attention. Small Business? Both West and Tim Scott are on Small Business. Neither West or Scott are on a money committee and neither is on a investigative media attracting committee like Oversight and Government Reform or Judiciary. Former Reps. Bill Jefferson was on Small Business and present Rep. Yvette Clarke now sits on the panel. Though Small Business is the committee of jurisdiction for most affirmative action initiatives and support for minority businesses, it’s hard to figure what being on the committee does for two Republicans who are unlikely to be in favor of affirmative action. Tim Scott will probably be able to do more with his Transportation assignment. Time will tell.