The power shift in Congress will result in Republicans being named to chair committees that likely will be more friendly to the oil and natural gas industry, as well as other energy sectors.
Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA) is expected to be named chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Department of Interior and its policies. He has been an outspoken critic of the Obama administration's offshore leasing policies and its handling of the BP plc well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.
Rep. Joe Barton, who was chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee and then served two terms as ranking member, wants another shot at the chairmanship, but he isn't likely to get it. He has used up his allotted three terms as chairman and ranking member (see Daily GPI, Nov. 4).
"It's a long shot for him because he would need to get a waiver," said Martin Edwards, legislative vice president of the Independent Natural Gas Association of America. Still, Barton is campaigning for the seat of chairman. He sent a letter to incoming House conservatives, saying that he has "worked hard to earn a reputation for fairness in dealing with policy opponents. But when I am chairman, you won't find many Democrats applauding." Likely candidates for the chairmanship are said to be Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan and John Shimkus of Illinois.
John Mica (R-FL), the ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, would be the "logical choice" for chairman of that panel, said Edwards. The panel has jurisdiction over interstate pipelines and the U.S. Coast Guard. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), currently the ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is in line to become that committee's chairman. The election, said Edwards, "was a referendum on the Obama agenda and the American people rejected it. The American people have sent a clear and direct message to Washington that they want less spending, limited government and more accountability."
Issa has been a thorn in the side of both presidents Bush and Obama for the improprieties that took place in the Interior Department's oil and natural gas program.
Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama may succeed Barney Frank as chairman of the House Financial Services Commission, who along with Sen. Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, helped to shepherd the sweeping Wall Street Reform Act through Congress earlier this year. As for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's options, she has two: she could leave the leadership and return to Senate minority leadership, or she could resign her San Francisco seat altogether. The smart money is on option No. 2, and for an announcement by the end of the week, CQ Roll Call said.
"I think probably she'll resign," Edwards said. Most former House speakers have not returned to a lesser position after stepping down.
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