Politics

Reps. Michael McCaul and Dan Crenshaw vie for chairmanships in the 118th Congress

The Houston-area Republican congressmen are bidding, respectively, to lead the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee.

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, Michael McCaul Campaign Website
LEFT: Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, a former Navy SEAL who was wounded in Afghanistan, pauses during a roundtable discussion with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and other Republicans as they criticize President Joe Biden on the Afghanistan evacuation, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021. RIGHT: Incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul represents the 10th Congressional District, which stretches from Houston to Austin.

Two Houston-area Republicans are angling for committee leadership posts in the next Congress. At least one of them is likely to succeed.

Congressman Michael McCaul represents Texas' 10th Congressional District, which stretches from northwest Houston to north Austin. He has served since 2005 and previously chaired the House Homeland Security Committee. Currently, he's the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and wants to take the chairman's gavel.

"I think McCaul's got a really good chance at getting Foreign Affairs," said University of Houston political science professor Brandon Rottinghaus. "He's someone who's been in that position for a long time. He's made those connections. He's been able to roll out policy initiatives that Republicans generally agree with. He's been critical of Democrats, but not so critical that he knows that he can't work with them on these big issues."

Rottinghaus said that the next round of big congressional fights will deal with subpoenas and investigating foreign policy issues like the Biden administration's withdrawal from Afghanistan last year. "The Republicans want a seasoned hand in that role," Rottinghaus said. "and McCaul can give that to them."

Meanwhile, Congressman Dan Crenshaw is seeking to lead the House Homeland Security Committee. Crenshaw represents Texas' 2nd Congressional District, covering Montgomery County and portions of north and west Harris County.

"Obviously (Crenshaw is) well equipped for that," Rottinghaus said. "He's well known. He's well respected. He definitely sees eye to eye with most Republicans in terms of policy. He's been effective at campaigning for other members and funneling money to their campaign accounts. But he's still pretty junior, and in Congress, seniority is everything."

Crenshaw has served in Congress since 2019. His main competitor for the chairmanship is Congressman Clay Higgins of Louisiana, who has served since 2017 is currently the third-ranking Republican on the committee.

Apart from McCaul and Crenshaw, Texans likely to take leadership positions in the next House of Representatives include Congresswoman Kay Granger of Fort Worth, who is currently the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, and Congressman Roger Williams of Austin, who is vying to chair the House Small Business Committee.

Still, three or four chairmanships is a relatively small number for Texas. Rottinghaus said the state has lost a great deal of seniority in recent years with a large number of congressional retirements.

"Texas has historically had a significant amount of clout in Congress because of its size and its political power," Rottinghaus said. "But political clout is like a block of ice. It melts really fast. So, as political circumstances change, so does political power. That's where the Republican Party finds themselves now, especially members from Texas."

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media's business reporter, covering the oil...

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