Coincidences don’t exist in Washington and actions don’t unfold randomly. There may not be an obvious connection between news events in a day or week, but, behind the scenes, a steady hand is at least trying to guide the political course of events. This afternoon, my inbox was lit up with an announcement from GA GOP Rep. Tom Price that he had been selected as Vice-Chair of the powerful House Budget Committee. It was an interesting day to announce the news.
Today, Speaker Boehner announced plans to push a “Plan B” to address the “fiscal cliff” negotiations. The plan will include the nation’s largest-ever tax hike with a roughly equivalent amount of spending cuts. The deal may also lift the debt ceiling for another year. It will likely be a tough pill for conservatives to swallow.
So, it is telling that on the same day this deal is coming into view, Rep. Price, a prominent conservative leader in the House caucus, is being rewarded with a plum committee assignment. Given the tight reins House GOP Leadership have held over committee and subcommittee assignments, it is inconceivable that such an appointment would be made with at least some assurance that Rep. Price will support Leadership’s position, whatever that turns out to be.
Rep. Price is a former Chair of the conservative Republican Study Committee. He narrowly lost a leadership election last month against Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. A couple weeks ago, his name was floated for around 24 hours as a possible challenger to Speaker Boehner. He quickly put an end to those rumors.
Now, he’s been elevated to the number 2 slot on the Budget Committee. Rep. Paul Ryan is currently serving as Chair under an unprecedented waiver to the House GOP term limit rules. It is very likely he will step down as Chair in two years, putting Rep. Price in line to chair the powerful committee.
Leadership does not just govern by purges and punishment. It also must dole out rewards. It looks like Rep. Price just got a plum one.