House Republicans on Wednesday restructured the panel of representatives that select committee chairmen and members, removing at-large seats in favor of more regional slots.
The move was the final piece of plan to restructure the Republican Steering Committee that the conference agreed to last November. The overhaul was part of Speaker Paul D. Ryan's promise to change GOP rules and procedures to give rank-and-file members more input.
The steering committee in December will, among other things, decide the next chairmen of two of the most influential legislative panels on Capitol Hill, House Appropriations and Energy and Commerce.
When Republicans began the restructuring last year, they removed all but one Steering Committee seat set aside for committee chairmen and replaced those seats with six at-large seats. The plan was always to switch the at-large seats for six new regional slots this year in preparation for the 115th Congress.
Last year's changes included reducing the number of votes the speaker gets from five to four and adding a slot to be filled at the discretion of the speaker to address gaps in representation.
The approval of the restructured committee came during a GOP conference meeting Wednesday afternoon. Republicans also debated and adopted conference rules for the 115th Congress, delaying a decision on whether to reinstate limited earmarks until early next year.
The Steering Committee is comprised of 32 members, primarily leadership and the 18 regional representatives. The leadership slots are set since the House elected its leaders Tuesday. Other members will be elected after the Thanksgiving break.
Several of the larger states have their own regions, with Texas divided into two. States with fewer than two GOP members get to participate in their region's election, as well an election for a small state representative.
There will also be two class representatives for members who arrived during the 114th and 115th sessions of Congress.
In addition to speaker's designee, there is a slot reserved for a rotating set of committee chairman. The chairmen get to sit on the Steering Committee when it is deciding which members to appoint to their panels.
After the Steering Committee members are elected, the panel will sit in December to elect committee chairmen for the four panels where there are open slots: the Appropriations, Energy and Commerce, Veterans Affairs and Education and the Workforce Committees.
The other members of leadership who sit on the panel include are:
- Majority Whip Steve Scalise;
- Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry;
- Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers;
- Republican Policy Committee Chair Luke Messer;
- Conference Vice Chair Doug Collins;
- Conference Secretary Jason Smith;
- National Republican Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Stivers; and
- Former NRCC Chairman Greg Walden.
The regions and classes will meet after Thanksgiving to elect their representatives to the Steering Committee. The regions break down as follows:
- Texas Region I;
- Texas Region II;
- Florida Region;
- California Region;
- Pennsylvania Region;
- Ohio Region;
- Region 1: New Jersey, New York and Maine;
- Region 2: Kentucky, Maryland and Virginia;
- Region 3: North Carolina and West Virginia;
- Region 4: Georgia and South Carolina;
- Region 5: Alabama and Tennessee;
- Region 6: Illinois, Indiana and Iowa;
- Region 7: Michigan and Wisconsin;
- Region 8: Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Puerto Rico
- Region 9: Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma;
- Region 10: Alaska, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington and Wyoming;
- Region 11: Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and American Samoa; and
- Small State Region: Alaska, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Wyoming, American Samoa and Puerto Rico.