Yesterday, Jason Chaffetz, who chairs the House government oversight committee, announced he would be departing Congress at the end of June. I’m still curious about the sudden decision, but I’ll save that idle speculation for another time.
According to Politico, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of nostalgia for his time on the committee:
A handful of top Republicans have a message for outgoing Rep. Jason Chaffetz: It’s time to relinquish the House Oversight Committee gavel.
Several senior GOP lawmakers are quietly encouraging Chaffetz to step down from his chairmanship soon, even though the Utah Republican doesn’t plan to resign from Congress until June 30. While his retirement announcement Thursday said nothing about his future work, Chaffetz has told lawmakers he’ll be heading to Fox News.
Makes sense. Chaffetz has basically lost any clout he had. Any decision he makes will just be stalled until after June 30 and revisited. (As a personal aside, I can tell you from experience just how little power and authority you have once everyone knows what date you are leaving.) And the oversight committee has a full plate.
Behind the scenes, there is some concern that Chaffetz is hanging on to Oversight for the wrong reasons. The telegenic 50-year-old would garner major publicity for chairing a high-profile interrogation of Comey, whose story is one of the most sought after inside the Beltway.
At least one Republican mused to POLITICO that Chaffetz’s continued chairmanship could create a conflict given his possible future endeavors in television…
While I’m dubious about the idea of “conflicts” in general, I think there is a real problem in having Chaffetz have access to witnesses and documents concerning the most sensitive investigation in Washington and then moving to a television slot where he will be opining on those subjects nightly. The odds of an inadvertent slip-up are huge because when you deal with large volumes of classified info it is very, very easy to forget where you read something.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) is expected to become the next chairman of the House Oversight Committee, replacing Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) in the high-profile post when he leaves Congress late next month, according to multiple senior House Republicans.
Gowdy, who chaired the House Select Committee on Benghazi, has started buttonholing members of the House Steering Committee in recent days to build support. Five members of that panel, which decides committee assignments, told POLITICO that Gowdy would easily win a race for the job should another member challenge him.
The House GOP conference will pick a successor on June 5.