California Republican seeks ranking Government Reform post

Rep. Darrell Issa announces bid to succeed Virginia Rep. Tom Davis as top Republican on key House committee.

California Rep. Darrell Issa has officially thrown his hat into the ring to replace retiring Rep. Tom Davis as the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

At the same time, the committee's chairman, Henry Waxman, D-Calif., announced that he would challenge Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., for the chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Government Executive reported last week that Issa and Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut had been lobbying for the ranking post on the Oversight and Government Reform panel. Shays was thought to be the top contender for the position, but he lost his seat Tuesday night to Democrat Jim Himes.

Sources said Issa, a fierce conservative, now is virtually guaranteed the slot.

"While … committee Republicans will miss the leadership and experience of members like Reps. Tom Davis and Chris Shays, this committee will need a strong voice when hearings and investigations are one-sided, inappropriately partisan, or oblivious to government failures like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that embarrass the majority," Issa said. "I've spoken out and objected strongly when Democrats have acted inappropriately and will continue to do so as ranking member when committee Democrats put partisan politics ahead of the committee's duties."

Issa said as ranking member, he would focus on the financial crisis, the 2010 census and federal procurement issues. And he made clear that he would push the panel to investigative the incoming Obama administration with as much intensity as it has the Bush administration.

"Large majorities in Congress and the White House will soon propose more regulation, more government programs, more spending and more taxes for America," Issa said. "Oversight and Government Reform Republicans will have to hold the line and remind this Congress that over 56 million Americans rejected Barack Obama's agenda of big government, trillions in new spending and higher taxes."

The likeliest contender to succeed Waxman as chairman if he leaves the Oversight and Government Reform Committee would be the panel's senior member, Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y. Other contenders include Reps. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., and Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y.