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California House members aiming to offset loss of influence

November 08, 2012|By Richard Simon
  • It is uncertain whether Nancy Pelosi will retain her post as Democratic leader in the House.
It is uncertain whether Nancy Pelosi will retain her post as Democratic… (Joshua Roberts / Bloomberg )

WASHINGTON -- Just days after the election, California House members are campaigning again, this time for committee leadership posts that could offset some of the state delegation’s loss of influence on Capitol Hill with the departure of a number of its senior members.

Reps. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) are seeking the chairmanships of the Foreign Affairs and the Science, Space and Technology committees, respectively.  Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) is seeking to follow Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Valley Village), whom he defeated in Tuesday’s balloting, as the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) is in line to succeed Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) as the top Democrat on the Financial Services Committee.

Still unknown is whether House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) will seek to remain the House Democratic leader after her party failed to win the majority.

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Democratic-leaning California has enjoyed considerable influence in the Republican-controlled House, largely because of its members’ seniority. Californians in recent years have chaired more committees than any other states.

But Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Gold River), chairman of the Committee on House Administration, was trailing his Democratic opponent in a Sacramento-area race. Reps. Jerry Lewis (R-Redlands), a senior Appropriations Committee member, and David Dreier (R-San Dimas), the Rules Committee chairman, are retiring.

Even so,  Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) will remain majority whip, and Reps. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-Santa Clarita) and Darrell Issa (R-Vista) will continue to hold the gavels of the Armed Services and the Oversight and Government Reform committees, respectively. 

Royce is seeking to succeed Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who must step down because of GOP term limits for chairmen.

Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.) also is seeking the Foreign Affairs gavel, but Royce has won Ros-Lehtinen’s backing to succeed her. Royce also has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to help elect fellow Republicans, a consideration when party leaders make their recommendations to the rank and file.

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Royce said in a statement said that if he received the gavel, he would work "against the administration's most harmful foreign policies, and exercise strong oversight over the State Department and other agencies."

Rohrabacher, who will become the senior California Republican in the next Congress, faces opposition from Reps. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) and Lamar Smith (R-Texas) for the Science Committee gavel.

“I intend to be a chairman who exemplifies the Republican philosophy that science, technology and innovation offer a pathway to a better, more prosperous future, and solve problems that bureaucracy and rampant government spending cannot,” said Rohrabacher said in a press release.

Each party’s rank and file is expected to decide the committee leadership posts soon based on recommendations from party leaders.

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