With the GOP in control of the House, here’s who’s likely to lead key committees

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Updated November 23, 2022 at 7:22 AM ET

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NPR) — The Republican Party will officially take control of the House of Representatives and its committees come January. Leadership roles in House committees will then transition from Democrats to Republicans.

Democrats traditionally use the seniority system to select chairs and ranking members on committees, and they do not enforce term limits. House Republicans adhere to a six -year term limit for chairs and often see competitive races for top committee gavels, like Appropriations and Ways and Means.

Here’s a look at some of the Republicans who will likely chair House committees and why it matters.

House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy's head
House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-C.A., on Wednesday announced his run for House Speaker if Republicans win the chamber. [Alex Wong | Getty Images]

Jim Comer, House Oversight and Reform Committee

As the main investigative panel in the House, the Oversight and Reform Committee has the authority to probe the federal government and its agencies, including matters within other committee’s jurisdictions, according to the House website.

It’s currently made up of 25 Democrats and 20 Republicans, with Carolyn Maloney, D-NY, currently serving as chairwoman. But Republicans will soon become the committee’s majority, and Jim Comer, R-Ky., will likely assume Maloney’s position.

Comer was among Republicans who recently accused President Biden’s son, Hunter, of influence peddling, and labeled him a national security threat. They accused Biden and his family of crimes, including defrauding the United States, tax evasion, money laundering and more.

“The president’s participation in enriching his family is, in a word, abuse of the highest order,” Comer said. “I want to be clear: This is an investigation of Joe Biden, and that’s where our focus will be next Congress.”

Returning fire, the White House called the likely investigation into the Biden family another Republican conspiracy theory, arguing that the GOP is more concerned with revenge than politics.

“Instead of working with President Biden to address issues important to the American people, like lower costs, congressional Republicans’ top priority is to go after President Biden with politically-motivated attacks chock full of long-debunked conspiracy theories,” White House Spokesperson Ian Sams said. “President Biden is not going to let these political attacks distract him from focusing on Americans’ priorities, and we hope congressional Republicans will join us in tackling them instead of wasting time and resources on political revenge.”

Jim Jordan, House Judiciary Committee

The Judiciary Committee oversees issues relating to the legal system, including overseeing the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, has jurisdiction over all proposed constitutional amendments and handles issues such as regulatory reform, anti-trust laws, crime and terrorism and immigration reform.

It’s currently led by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., but power will likely transition to Republican Jim Jordan of Ohio once his party assumes responsibility.

According to the Republican’s House Judiciary Committee page, Jordan is a fiscal conservative, advocating that people, not the government, are best equipped to make decisions about their personal finances. He also served as the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee.

Less than one week before polls closed for the midterm elections, Jordan sent letters to the heads of the FBI and Justice Department requesting documents ahead of an expected GOP-led Judiciary Committee investigation.

The congressman has accused the FBI and DOJ leadership of operating under a political bias. On Nov. 4, Jordan and Judiciary Republicans released a 1,000-page-report, FBI Whistleblowers: What Their Disclosures Indicate About the Politicization of the FBI And Justice Department, accusing the agencies of political corruption.

The FBI told NPR that it conducts itself and its investigations without political influence.

“Put quite simply: We follow the facts without regard for politics,” the FBI said in a written statement. “While outside opinions and criticism often come with the job, we will continue to follow the facts wherever they lead, do things by the book, and speak through our work.”

Patrick McHenry, Committee on Financial Services

This committee oversees all the components of America’s housing and financial sectors. According to the committee’s website, this includes banking, insurance, real estate, securities as well as public and assisted housing. It’s headed by Chair Maxine Waters, a California Democrat, and North Carolina’s Patrick McHenry currently serves as Republican’s ranking member.

McHenry, who will likely assume Waters’ role when the new Congress forms, was one of a few House Republicans who announced last month that they would launch an investigation into the Treasury Department and its newly formed Advisory Committee on Racial Equity. They accused the Biden administration of politicizing the department by forming the advisory committee, which aims to explore aspects of the economy that have resulted in what it called “unfavorable conditions” for minority groups and persons of color.

Republicans said in a news release that the group is led by “radically partisan” politicians on the left, and that the committee will deter the Treasury from focusing on primary functions that benefit all Americans. In a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, McHenry and ranking member Republicans from three other House committees sought answers about the advisory committee’s role, goals and membership criteria.

“Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee are deeply concerned about the makeup and goals of this so-called ‘advisory committee’ and will get the answers from the Treasury Department that the American people deserve,” the letter reads.

The role of the 25-person committee is to provide insight and guidance to Treasury leaders so they can address racial disparities and advance racial equality, according to the committee’s bylaws.

The advisory committee chair, Michael Nutter, teaches professional practice in urban and public affairs at Columbia University in New York. Before that, he spent eight years as the mayor of Philadelphia, where he says he improved high school and college graduation rates.

Vice Chair Felicia Wong is the president and CEO of the Roosevelt Institute, a nonprofit think tank working to advance progressive policies. She works with officials across the country on practicing progressive economics.

Other members come from assorted backgrounds, including business, law and academia.

Michael Turner, Committee on Intelligence

The House Committee on Intelligence oversees the nation’s intelligence agencies: the Department of Defense as well as the Homeland Security, Justice, State, Treasury and Energy departments.

The panel is currently led by California Rep. Adam Schiff but will likely transition to Rep. Michael Turner of Ohio in January. Both parties have launched partisan probes and inquiries in recent years.

In August, Schiff and Democrats from the Oversight and Reform Committee asked the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to review the documents seized from former-President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and conduct a damage assessment of what was missing from the National Archives and Records Administration.

Meanwhile, Turner and committee Republicans were working to get documents and communication records from the FBI, the National Archives and Department of Justice about the matter, according to a committee minority news release.

Turner, however, hopes both parties can put their political differences aside so the committee can focus on its duties. He said in an interview with the New York Times last month that should he become committee chair, he plans to work with Democrats so committee members can focus on the nation’s national security and intelligence needs, in spite of pressure from his own party.

“We need to do the job that we were intended to do,” Turner told the New York Times. “I believe that there is a hunger between both sides of the aisle — members who are national security-focused, intelligence community-focused — to get this committee back on track.”

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