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Who's next on E&C for GOP

Rep. Brett Guthrie

Guthrie in 2020. Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers' retirement announcement has set off a race for the top GOP spot on one of the Hill's most powerful committees.

Why it matters: Whoever replaces CMR on Energy and Commerce will take on the weight of the GOP's priorities — and would likely have a big say in how energy dealmaking looks next Congress.

  • They're also likely to take up the mantle on nuclear policy from CMR and retiring Energy subcommittee Chair Jeff Duncan.

State of play: Bob Latta, who chairs the E&C tech subcommittee and has a deep background in energy policy, is running to replace Rodgers, a source close to the congressman tells Axios.

  • Rep. Brett Guthrie is also running to replace CMR, Axios' Andrew Solender and Victoria Knight reported last week.
  • And folks we've spoken to around town are talking about Richard Hudson as a potential frontrunner.

Zoom in: Latta has a history in the energy policy weeds, most prominently writing the Nuclear Fuel Security Act, the enriched uranium supply chain bill that became law as part of the most recent defense authorization.

  • Latta also wrote Republican "vehicle choice" legislation and as chair of the technology subcommittee led a push to cut down permitting requirements for broadband projects.
  • "Congressman Latta strongly believes that the path to U.S. energy independence lies with an all-of-the-above energy strategy — which includes nuclear, natural gas, oil, wind, solar, hydropower, and investing in critical mineral production," Latta comms director Craig Wheeler said in a statement.

Guthrie, meanwhile, chairs the health subcommittee, and that's where he's put most of his focus on E&C. But he has some history on nuclear as well as oil and gas.

  • He's the lead sponsor of the Nuclear for Brownfields Site Preparation Act, which is part of the nuclear package that committee leadership is negotiating with the Senate.
  • And he sponsored a resolution that advanced through E&C last year opposing any restrictions on crude oil exports.
  • Guthrie told a Kentucky newspaper last year that carbon capture technology "quite honestly is not there yet" but that the U.S. should examine "reasonable ways" to capture carbon.

Hudson could have a leg up as chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee for the 2024 cycle (CMR also held a conference leadership position before ascending on E&C).

  • Hudson also has ties to conservative climate world: He recently hired Jeff Morehouse, formerly government affairs director at ClearPath, to be his leadership chief of staff.
  • And he wrote one of the bills in E&C's nuclear package, the Advanced Nuclear Deployment Act. It would aim to speed licensing for advanced reactors.

What we're watching: Whether any dark-horse candidates hop in.

  • Buddy Carter and Morgan Griffith are both senior members of the panel with subcommittee gavels and deep energy policy histories.

Of note: Everyone we've mentioned is a member of the Conservative Climate Caucus, something that would have been unthinkable 15 years ago.

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