Rep. Vern Buchanan announced Thursday he would like to chair the House Ways and Means Committee.
He made his intentions clear after Texas Rep. Kevin Brady, the committee’s ranking Republican, announced he would not seek reelection.
“The announcement by Rep. Kevin Brady that he will not seek reelection is a huge loss to our party,” Buchanan said. “Kevin has been nothing short of a superstar over the past five years as Republican leader of the Ways and Means Committee. I worked side by side with Kevin and saw his critical leadership in passing the historic Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and the landmark trade deal with Canada and Mexico.”
Buchanan will face competition, according to Roll Call. The role of chairman or ranking member is usually decided by seniority. The longest serving Republican on the committee is Rep. Devin Nunes of California, though he would have to give up his position as the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee to lead Ways and Means. Rep. Adrian Smith of Nebraska is third in line in seniority behind Buchanan and also expressed interest in the role.
Nunes was called the frontrunner by the political publication, in large part because of his relationship with Republican Minority Leader and fellow Californian Kevin McCarthy. That said, McCarthy has a good relationship with Buchanan as well, with both winning election to the House in the same class.
Brady serves as the ranking member of the powerful House committee now and already faced a term limit on that role under GOP conference rules. He led the committee during the first half of former President Donald Trump’s term, when the tax cut package won approval.
Buchanan worked closely with Brady in particular on trade issues, serving as a liaison with the White House on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
The Ways and Means Committee remains one of the most important, dealing with tax law, trade policy and revenue-generating programs including social security, unemployment insurance, Medicare and a variety of other matters. Past Republican Ways and Means chairs went on to become Speaker of the House, including Ohio Republican John Boehner and Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan.
“It is my honor to serve as the Republican leader of the Trade Subcommittee and as past chairman of the Tax Subcommittee while these issues were under consideration,” Buchanan said.
Buchanan first won election to the House in 2006 and currently co-chairs Florida’s congressional delegation
For the Sarasota Republican to lead the chamber relies on the GOP taking back control of the House of Representatives. Right now, Democrats hold just a six-seat majority in the House, and historically the party out of power in the presidency performs well in the mid-terms.
“At the appropriate time, it would be an honor to be considered for the chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee when we win back the House in 2022,” Buchanan said.