House opposition starts to take shape

House Republicans announced a slew of changes to key committee posts.

US Congress House side Shutterstock photo ID: 156615524 By mdgn editorial use only

A change of party control and a wave of retirements are changing the makeup of Republican representation on key committees of Congress for the session kicking off in January 2019, with some familiar faces being elevated to more senior roles.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a Freedom Caucus co-founder and frequent thorn in the side of leadership when Paul Ryan led House Republicans, will take over as raking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, under the chairmanship of Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.)

Jordan had vied to serve as minority leader of the House Republicans but lost to Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the current majority leader. Jordan's candidacy for Oversight ranking member was propelled with Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), another Freedom Caucus co-founder and currently chair of the powerful Government Operations subcommittee, bowed out of the race.

The Oversight Committee is expected to be a hotbed of investigative activity, ranging from emoluments probes to oversight of ethics rules and record management including the use of encrypted messaging apps that disappear communications by government officials. Jordan is expected to emerge as the chief defender of Trump administration policies and officials on the panel. The committee also takes the lead on the largely bipartisan issue of IT management and FITARA oversight.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Al.) will serve as ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee. He will replace outgoing chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas), who was term-limited out of a leadership position on the committee and will go on to serve as the ranking Republican for the House Foreign Affairs committee.

"Having served on the Committee since its inception in 2005, I have the experience and expertise needed to lead conservative homeland security efforts in the House," Rogers said in a statement.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) will chair the Homeland Security panel, which has a sprawling oversight portfolio that includes immigration, Department of Homeland Security components and cybersecurity policy.

Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) will take over as ranking member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The committee has become a key battleground for legislative debates over surveillance and encryption policy.

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) will become the ranking member on the House Financial Services committee. McHenry has a background in fintech issues and in an interview with CoinDesk earlier this year, expressed a reluctance to regulate digital currencies like Bitcoin. That could put him at odds with the Department of the Treasury, law enforcement and the likely Democratic chair, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who in June called the growing use of cryptocurrency to finance terrorism, launder money and purchase illegal products "alarming."

Representative Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) will succeed retiring Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) as the senior Republican on the Science, Space and Technology committee. Rep. Mac Thorberry (R-Texas) will retain his position as top Republican on House Armed Services Committee.