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The Battle for Chairman of Ways and Means Heats Up

The Battle for Chairman of Ways and Means Heats Up

As soon as Paul Ryan, R-Wis., becomes Speaker of the House, the race will be on for his current post, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

At present, it looks like Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, will square off with Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, to replace Ryan at Ways and Means, the House’s tax-writing committee.

Brady, now co-chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, has the reputation of a hard-liner. Tiberi, an ally of his fellow Ohioan, John Boehner, is viewed as more of a moderate. In our current scorched-earth landscape, the calculus may seem simple – dump everything and everyone remotely associated with Boehner and go with Brady.

But a closer look reveals Tiberi may be a better fit.

Tiberi is a pro-business Republican. Elsewhere in Congress, this might disqualify him, but at Ways and Means, it could prove instrumental in a number of ways.

A lot of tax law concerns business and trade, where his background could help.

Also, Tiberi’s business connections have helped make him a formidable fundraiser, both for himself and others. This year alone, he has hauled in $1.3 million and has $3.4 million on hand. Brady has collected about $844,000 and has less than $1 million on hand.

Tiberi also has been more generous with colleagues. He has raised $23 million for his campaigns and leadership PAC since he entered Congress in 1998 and has shared $3 million with colleagues – including more than $161,000 during this cycle.

Brady, who entered Congress two years earlier, has raised just $14 million and shared $2.6 million with other candidates and PACs, and his PAC has donated only $20,000 to other candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Tiberi ranks 24th among current members of Congress in contributions; Brady 36th.

This would be easier to overlook if not for the circumstances under which the job came open. Ryan, whose fundraising totals – nearly $41 million raised, more than $8 million shared – dwarfs those of Brady and Tiberi combined, said as a condition of taking the position that he would not spend a lot of time or effort on fundraising. He plans to spend his weekends in Wisconsin with his young children.

With so prolific a fundraiser on the sidelines, it makes it more critical another accomplished fundraiser, one whose haul should only increase if he moves up to the chairmanship of Ways and Means, gets the nod.

There is not a ton of difference between Tiberi, who chairs the subcommittee on trade, and Brady on Ways and Means policy matters. Both voted for the Budget Control Act, which established the sequester, in 2013. Both voted against the clean debt ceiling legislation last year and both supported trade promotion authority for the president.

Tiberi has signed a letter calling for a vote on reopening the Export-Import Bank, but that is a nod – and likely a lucrative one – to his business constituency that has little consequence since it won’t likely carry anyway.

Tiberi has done his part to chip away at Obamacare. He has voted repeatedly to repeal it and has sponsored legislation to repeal some of its most onerous provisions, such as the employer mandate and the burdensome 1099 reporting requirement for small businesses – the first bill signed into law that repealed part of the Affordable Care Act.

Both know the nuts and bolts of tax policy, but Tiberi has been a leader in the House on legislation allowing greater business expensing that promoted increased investment, jobs, higher ways and better economic growth.

He will not hurt Republicans with social conservatives – he is pro-Second Amendment, anti-abortion, pro-Israel. He swore off earmarks long before they were outlawed, and he has returned more than $2 million of the money budgeted to run his congressional office.

Finally, there’s something Tiberi is not – a Texan. Six House committees currently have chairmen from Texas.

It’s a big job that could get even bigger if a Republican wins the White House in 2016. Major tax reform likely is coming whoever wins, but it will look substantially different if Republicans rule the roost on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Members say they want someone who not only have the ideas but experience that suggests they can get legislation passed. Tiberi has proven he can work and play well with others when the chips are on the line.

There is nothing in Tiberi’s record to suggest he wouldn’t be on the same page with 90 percent of Republicans 90 percent of the time. The same can be said of Brady. But what can’t be said of Brady but can be said of Tiberi is that he is an effective and efficient fundraiser. With two of the Republicans’ best fundraisers, Ryan and Boehner, headed to the sidelines, that will be more important than ever.


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