- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz won a hotly contested race Tuesday to become the next chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, putting him in charge of the panel that has doggedly pursued the Obama administration on issues ranging from the IRS targeting scandal to the Fast and Furious gun-walking operation.

Mr. Chaffetz bested three fellow Republican lawmakers vying to succeed Chairman Darrell Issa, who has battled with Democrats on the committee and been a thorn in the side of the Obama administration since the GOP took control of the House in 2011.

Term limits forced Mr. Issa to give up the gavel for the powerful committee.

“The faith placed in me by my colleagues today is a tremendous honor and privilege,” said Mr. Chaffetz. “I am fully committed to taking on difficult tasks that a chairmanship requires.”

The Oversight Committee single-handedly led investigations and challenged President Obama during the last four years while the GOP controlled House but not the Senate. With Republicans taking control of both chambers next year, Mr. Chaffetz will benefit from being part of a new double-barreled oversight of the executive branch.

The House Republican Steering Committee, consisting of conference leaders, also picked Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan to be the nation’s chief tax-law writer as head of the Ways and Means Committee; Utah Rep. Rob Bishop to head the Natural Resources Committee; Georgia Rep. Tom Price as Budget Committee chairman; and Texas Rep. Mac Thornberry as leader of the Armed Services Committee.

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The contest for the Oversight Committee was the most competitive chairmanship race.

Mr. Chaffetz beat out Reps. John Mica of Florida and Jim Jordan and Michael R. Turner, both of Ohio.

Mr. Issa called Mr. Chaffetz, who led investigations in to the Benghazi terror attack and Secret Service scandals, a “demonstrated leader who will continue the work of the Oversight Committee in the next Congress.”

“I am looking forward to working with him on the transition and moving my focus to other responsibilities,” said Mr. Issa, California Republican.

Mr. Jordan quickly threw his support behind the next chairman.

“I know our committee will have a full agenda over the next two years of holding the federal government accountable and finding ways to eliminate wasteful spending through meaningful legislative reform, and I am confident that Congressman Chaffetz will lead that effort in an effective way,” he said.

Mr. Chaffetz also received praise form the committee’s Democrats, who viewed any change from Mr. Issa as an improvement.

“He has pledged to take our committee in a different direction than his predecessor, focusing on real oversight and legislation, not partisan politics. I take him at his word and hope to see that pledge fulfilled,” said Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, Virginia Democrat.

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

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