Aug 26, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Raskin vies for top spot on oversight committee

Rep. Jamie Raskin, wearing a dark blue suit, white shirt and blue tie, speaks at a podium during a Biden rally.
Rep. Jamie Raskin. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a member of the Jan. 6 select committee, said Friday he will seek the lead spot on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

Why it matters: Competition for this spot could become a proxy for a struggle between senior, more establishment Democrats and younger progressives.

  • If Republicans win the House majority in November, the top Democrat on the panel would be charged with leading the defense against a host of GOP probes into the Biden administration.

Driving the news: The opening is being created by Tuesday's primary loss of Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), the current chair.

The big picture: Raskin joins two other panel members who are running for the position: Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), the chair of the governmental affairs subcommittee, and Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), the chair of the national security subcommittee.

  • Raskin, the chair of the oversight subcommittee on civil rights and civil liberties, leaned into his relative youth in a letter to colleagues announcing his run.
  • "We must use every new technique of investigative research, communication, and social media to galvanize public opinion in our campaign to defend strong democracy and effective government in America," he wrote.
  • A former constitutional law professor, Raskin sits on virtually every other committee with jurisdiction over government affairs: House Administration, Rules and Judiciary.

But, but, but: Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), chair of the economic and consumer policy subcommittee, put out a statement on Friday blasting his colleagues' "unseemly" pre-November jockeying — but didn't rule out a run.

  • "Is it concerning that there has never been a South Asian Chair or Ranking Member of a full committee in the history of the U.S. Congress? Yes," he said.

What's next: The position will be decided at the start of the next Congress by a vote of the House Democratic caucus — which, as Axios has reported, could have a much more left-leaning tint if Democrats lose seats.

What we're watching: Raskin's roles as an impeachment manager and a member of the Jan. 6 committee have increased his public profile and made him popular among the liberal grassroots who want a scrappier, more fight-hungry Democratic Party.

  • At 59, he is the youngest and least senior member of the panel to throw his hat in the ring — and also the most vocally progressive.
  • Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), another younger progressive who chairs the subcommittee on the environment, is publicly supporting Raskin and calling for "progressives and the Dem Caucus to rally around him."

Connolly, 72, and Lynch, 67, are leaning into their relative experience.

  • "We need a tested leader who will not be timid in the face of Republican insurrectionists," Connolly said in a statement announcing his run, noting he has served on the committee since he entered Congress in 2009.
  • Lynch noted in a letter to his colleagues he is "the most senior member of the Oversight Committee seeking this position."

The intrigue: The Oversight Committee also currently boasts an usually high number of progressive "Squad" members: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) all sit on the panel, as does Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.).

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