WASHINGTON — It’s not exactly a surprise, but it’s finally official.
John Kline was tapped today by his House GOP colleagues to lead the Education and Labor Committee in the 112th Congress, which begins in January. He has been the ranking member of that panel for much of the last session, and faced no competition at all from within his caucus for the spot.
Kline will be Minnesota’s only committee chairman, as Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson moves to the ranking member spot because Democrats lost the House. Transportation Chairman Jim Oberstar is also out because lost his election to incoming Republican freshman Chip Cravaack. Minnesota’s two senators are far too junior to be considered for full chairmanships.
As chairman of the wide-ranging panel, Kline will be the GOP’s legislative point person on unwinding the recently-passed health overhaul bill while also steering through a multi-year reauthorization of the landmark No Child Left Behind education bill. All the while, Kline’s committee will be the starting point for almost any policy legislation on jobs and the economy.
“Job creation and American competitiveness are vital national priorities,” Kline said in a statement. “As Chairman, I will ensure they are at the forefront of the Education and Labor Committee agenda.”
“I am humbled by the decision of my colleagues to allow me to lead this panel, and I am eager to move forward with an agenda that fulfills our pledge to create a smaller, more accountable federal government. My goal for the federal programs and agencies that oversee our schools and workplaces is to provide certainty and simplicity. We must ensure federal red tape does not become the enemy of innovation, and that federal mandates do not become roadblocks on the path to reform.”
One note: The Education and Labor Committee might not keep that name in the next Congress. Republicans have in the past preferred to use the word “workforce” instead of “labor” in the title A decision on any potential name change would come in January.
Further reading: Our in-depth profile of Kline from November, including his agenda on Ed and Labor and how he’ll simultaneously be the White House’s best friend and worst enemy.