Politics

Bobby Scott Passes on Seeking Judiciary Committee Post

Virginia Democrat left panel in 2015 to become ranking member on Education panel

Rep. Robert C. Scott of Virginia said he was not interested in vying for the top Democratic slot on the Judiciary Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Robert C. Scott, D-Va., told Roll Call Tuesday he’s not interested in becoming ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, a role that is in question since Michigan’s John Conyers Jr. has agreed to temporarily step aside from the post amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

Jerrold Nadler of New York and Zoe Lofgren of California both are interested in serving as ranking member of the committee.

Scott left the Judiciary panel in 2015 to serve as ranking member of the Education and the Workforce Committee but maintains his position of seniority under Nadler and above Lofgren, should he decide to return to the panel.

He has no plans to do so now, saying he doesn’t believe there should be an election to fill the post temporarily.

“I think there’s a contest already, but there’s no vacancy yet,” he said, noting Conyers has only agreed to step aside temporarily.

“With no vacancy, you shouldn’t have an election,” he added, saying the next member in line in seniority, which is Nadler, should serve as acting ranking member.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, which Conyers helped found, have begun discussing how to provide an off-ramp for him from Congress. He is the Dean of the House, and the longest-serving member of both chambers, and is in his 27th term. 

If Conyers were to resign from Congress or otherwise decide to permanently give up his ranking member slot on Judiciary, Scott suggested he wouldn’t be interested in running for the post.

“I have a good job,” he said of his position as top Democrat on the Education panel. “I really do.”

Conyers has only agreed to step aside as ranking member while the Ethics Committee is investigating allegations against him.

The Ethics panel is using a rule designed to expedite processing of that investigation. House Minority Nancy Pelosi wrote a letter to the panel’s leaders urging them to speak up if they need additional resources to proceed with the investigation in a timely manner.

“As one who served seven years on the Ethics Committee, I know that the demands on staff and resources can at times be overstretched,” Pelosi wrote. “Should you need any additional resources to fairly and swiftly pursue these investigations, please make that need known.”

Lofgren didn’t want to entertain any discussion of an acting ranking member.

“When there is a vacancy, I will be a candidate,” Lofgren said. She repeated herself after being asked if her statement meant she was not pushing to be acting ranking member.

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