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Several lawmakers are vying to be the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee after Rep. John Katko announced he’s retiring from Congress.
At least three members are interested in the spot in the next Congress: Reps. Clay Higgins (R-La.) and Michael Guest (R-Miss.), who currently serve on the panel, and Scott Perry (R-Pa.), who was considered for the role in the past.
Their candidacies set up a race that’s likely stretch over much of the year as Katko (R-N.Y.) plans to serve until the end of his term. The House Republican Steering Committee will select his successor.
Guest, the vice ranking member on the committee, has served on it since he joined Congress in 2019. He praised Katko for his work on the panel.
“As a fellow former prosecutor, I share the Ranking Member’s commitment to our law enforcement agents across our country,” Guest said in a statement, adding that he would continue to focus on the southern border and law officers.
Higgins, who has served on the committee since 2017, is the chair of the Subcommittee on Border Security, Facilitation, and Operations. He plans to pursue the top spot, according to a spokesman.
Perry previously sat on the committee, at one point heading the panel’s oversight subcommittee. The Steering Committee considered him for the ranking member role for the current Congress, but ultimately gave it to Katko.
“I was proud to be considered once before,” Perry said in a statement to Bloomberg Government. “And when the time comes, I would be honored to serve in this capacity.”
One person not in the running for the role: Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), another top member on the committee. McCaul previously served as chairman for three terms, making him ineligible to hold the position under House GOP term-limit rules. He’s also the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
As the top Republican on the committee, Katko developed a reputation for working across the aisle on transportation security, cybersecurity, and other Department of Homeland Security issues.
He crafted a bipartisan proposal for a committee to investigate the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol with Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.). The plan failed to get broad support among Republicans—House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) slammed it as “duplicative and potentially counterproductive.”
The bipartisan dynamic Katko brought to the committee is likely to change when one of his more partisan colleagues rises to the top. While Katko was a centrist from a swing district who faced criticism for voting with Democrats, Perry is head of the right-wing Freedom Caucus and Higgins is a member. Guest voted with the Republican Party more than 95% of the time since being elected, according to a Bloomberg Government analysis.
“For future Republican leaders, finding issues that can be worked on in a bipartisan way will be essential to having a successful, functioning committee,” Monument Advocacy lobbyist Andrew Howell said. “Allowing the House Homeland Security Committee to get bogged down in partisanship would not be a constructive way to conduct oversight of DHS, which still needs a lot of support from its congressional committees.”
With assistance from Zach C. Cohen