- Associated Press - Thursday, November 5, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) - Texas Rep. Kevin Brady became chairman of the Ways and Means Committee Thursday after winning the approval of his fellow House Republicans as well as the backing of the chamber’s new speaker.

Brady, 60, becomes head of one of Congress’ most formidable committees, with jurisdiction over tax, health, welfare and trade. The former Houston-area chamber of commerce official was formally elected chairman by voice vote at a closed-door meeting of House GOP lawmakers.

The 10-term congressional veteran was all but assured of the job on Wednesday, when he won the endorsement of a 32-member committee of top House Republicans. Crucially, Brady was supported by the new House speaker and former Ways and Means chairman, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

In a brief interview, Brady said his first priorities would include work on legislation permanently renewing some expired tax breaks and expanding trade with Pacific nations.

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