By Jessica Wehrman THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Rep. Pat Tiberi says a focus for him would be fixing U.S. infrastructure.
WASHINGTON — Rep. Paul Ryan’s ascent to the speaker’s chair this week could open a door for Rep. Pat Tiberi.
Tiberi, R-Genoa Township, hopes to succeed Ryan as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. The committee, which oversees tax law, trade law and the health-care law, is considered one of the most formidable committees in the House of Representatives. Were Tiberi to take the gavel, he’d become one of two Ohio House members to chair committees
— Rep. Steve Chabot chairs the Small Business Committee — and the only Ohio House member to chair what is considered a major committee.
Tiberi, 53, however, isn’t the only one vying to lead the committee. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, is also seeking the seat. Brady, who currently chairs the health subcommittee, has served on the committee longer and is touting his seniority as one of his key advantages.
He’s also touting the fact that he already sacrificed the chairmanship once: When Ryan, R-Wis., indicated he wanted to lead the committee earlier this year, Brady pulled out of the race for chairman. Brady is the second-most-senior Republican on the committee; Tiberi is fourth.
“The next chairman of the Ways and Means Committee will have to hit the ground running,” Brady said in his announcement that he was running. “In addition to major accomplishments as leader of two subcommittees and chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, I’ve worked hard to earn a reputation for fairness, hard work and respect for members’ opinions across the spectrum.”
But Tiberi may have an advantage in the fact that Brady is a Texan. Texans hold six chairmanships in the House; some have expressed concern that a seventh chairmanship would make House leadership too Texan-heavy.
That fact, however, could be a mixed bag: Two of those Texas chairmen sit on the House Steering Committee, the select committee that will pick the next chairman. So does Rep. Lamar Smith, the Texas representative on the committee. And so, too, do Reps. John Shimkus, R-Ill., and Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, who share a D.C. apartment with Brady when Congress is in session.
Ryan, who has five votes on the committee, has so far remained neutral in the race.
The Steering Committee is scheduled to meet next week, though a day hasn’t been publicly released. In the meantime, Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, is serving as the committee’s acting chairman. Johnson is the senior Republican on the committee but is not running for chairman.
Tiberi, who is the chair of the committee’s trade subcommittee, argues he’s got the experience to put together policy solutions.
“To be chairman of the Ways and Means Committee is not just about putting policy together,” he said. “That’s really important. But it’s about getting enough people to support the policy.”
In a letter to members of the Ways and Means Committee, he said he’d prioritize fixing the transportation infrastructure system, advancing free trade and reforming the tax code.
“I have a vision for a Ways and Means Committee that leads in moving pro-growth tax reform and tax relief for individuals, families and employers, while also advancing Medicare, Social Security and welfare reform,” he wrote. “Delivering the message and doing the work on these once-in-a-generation issues will require the time, talent and commitment of every member of our committee.”[email protected]