Boehner Gives Ryan Waiver to Serve as Committee Chair

Boehner Gives Ryan Waiver to Serve as Committee Chair

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) will grant only one waiver to House Republican caucus rules that limit tenure as committee chairman or ranking member to six years, and that exemption will go to Budget Committee Chairman and former Vice-Presidential nominee Paul Ryan (R-WI).

Outgoing Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King (R-NY) asked Speaker Boehner for a similar waiver, but told the National Journal on Thursday the Speaker denied his request. “He wants to limit it to Ryan,” King said.

In addition to King, several committee chairmen are about to lose their positions as a result of this caucus rule, including John Mica (R-FL), Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Granting the waiver only to Ryan isn’t sitting well with many of the chairmen about to be displaced, especially since when the rules were written in 1994 they specifically excluded the person serving as Speaker (or Minority Leader) from the six year term limit feature. Boehner would have bumped up against the six year term limit himself without that exemption. He served as House Minority Leader for four years from 2007 to 2011, and will have served two additional years as Speaker from 2011 to 2013 when the new Congress convenes in January, 2013.

Though the outgoing chairmen are not happy with losing their positions of power, for each outgoing chairman there are several rank and file members now jockeying for position to take over the reins.

Despite the perceived unfairness of the exclusive waiver for Ryan, Boehner seems to be secure in his political power within the House Republican caucus. Congressman Phil Gingrey’s (R-GA)  efforts to modify the six year term limit rule to allow current chairmen to extend their stays failed in a closed door vote of the Republican caucus this week, due in part to the ambitions of members who seek to move up the power chain.

Ryan’s detailed knowledge of the budget is likely to come in handy as the negotiations with President Obama over the pending “fiscal cliff” kick into high gear over the next several weeks. Plus, in a battle of public relations over the details of those negotiations, Ryan has proven he’s capable of communicating effectively at the national level. 

It’s worth noting, however, that Ryan’s powers of persuasion to a national audience weren’t sufficient to stave off a memorable Romney-Ryan loss in the recent Presidential election.