Musical Chairs

Even though the Republicans have retained control of the House and the Senate, the chairmanships of the committees with the greatest influence over federal employees will be changing hands.

The Governmental Affairs Committee will lose chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, who is in line to take over the Appropriations Committee for retiring chairman Mark Hatfield, R-Ore. Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson is the leading candidate to take the helm at Governmental Affairs.

Thompson has been a critic of the efforts of his fellow Tennessean, Vice President Al Gore, to reinvent the federal government through the National Performance Review. Thompson is viewed as a possible contender for the Republication presidential nomination in the year 2000, furthering speculation that the two could clash in the years ahead.

Paul Clark, a Thompson spokesperson, told the Bureau of National Affairs Daily Report for Executives that the Senator believes "he should take a close look at all federal programs to see which ones work and which ones don't."

On the House side, Rep. Dan Burton is likely to take over the Government Reform and Oversight committee after the retirement of its chairman, William Clinger, R-Pa. News reports speculate that Burton will be even more aggressive in his job than Clinger was in pursuing allegations of scandal in the Clinton White House. One Republican aide on the committee told The Daily Report that the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were likely to be in for extensive oversight from the National Economic Growth, Natural Resources and Regulatory Affairs Subcommittee.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., who is in line to become the top-ranking Democrat on the Government Reform and Oversight Committee, will likely work to mitigate the effects of Republican hearings about White House activities.

The final makeup of the committee is still up in the air, since four freshmen members of the committee were defeated in their reelection bids.

On the Civil Service Subcommittee, chairman John Mica, R-Fla., was the target of radio ads and direct mailings by the American Federation of Government Employees during this fall's campaign. (See related story.) He overcame the union's effort and easily won his reelection bid. Mica had vowed that AFGE "will rue the day they ever crossed me."
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