Second Oversight Democrat announces bid to replace Elijah Cummings

Rep. Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts joins Rep. Jackie Speier of California seeking Oversight Committee gavel

Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., announced Monday he would seek to become the next chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. (Tom William/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Stephen Lynch announced Monday that he will run to be the next chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform after Chairman Elijah Cummings died two weeks ago.

The Massachusetts congressman is the second Democrat on the committee to seek the gavel. California Rep. Jackie Speier announced last week she was in the running to head the committee. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York to replace Cummings in an acting capacity based on Maloney’s seniority, Pelosi’s office said last week.

The Oversight Committee is one of three panels overseeing the House impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump.

“It is my hope to continue the good work of our colleague and friend, Elijah Cummings,” Lynch said in a statement Monday. “While we are facing momentous challenges before our Committee, including impeachment, we have many energetic and talented members and staff who are ready and eager to protect and defend the Constitution and the rule of law,” he said.

The House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee will meet with potential candidates on Nov. 12 before recommending a successor for Cummings, co-Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut said Monday. Potential candidates are also meeting with Pelosi to gauge her opinion on their standing.

Led by DeLauro along with California Reps. Eric Swalwell and Barbara Lee, the steering committee makes recommendations to the full caucus regarding chairmanships — though the caucus is not bound by their recommendations.

The steering panel usually considers seniority, effects on diversity of caucus leadership, and engagement on committee-specific issues when handing down recommendations.

Lynch has served on the Oversight Committee since 2001 and is tied with Missouri Rep. William Lacy Clay as the third-highest ranking Democrat on the panel. Maloney and Washington, D.C., Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton both outrank him.

Lynch currently chairs the Oversight Subcommittee on National Security.

Clay, who is now the most senior African American member on the Oversight panel, has not said whether he will run to replace Cummings.

The 53 House members in the Congressional Black Caucus hold significant sway in how House Democratic leaders decide who to support in committee chair races.

Its influence could be especially pronounced for choosing the next Oversight chairperson since Cummings was one of its most recognizable members, though the CBC has historically endorsed committee chair candidates based on seniority.

Oversight member Rep. Jim Cooper of Tennessee will “absolutely not” run for the gavel, his chief of staff, Lisa Quigley, told CQ Roll Call on Monday.

“We have lots of great Members who can ably lead [the Oversight Committee],” Quigley wrote in an email.

Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.

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