Washington – U.S. Rep. John Kline wants to stay on as chairman of the House Education Committee in the next Congress.
He may be forced to challenge Republican rules to do so.
The GOP has term limits that restrict members to serving six consecutive years as a committee chair or ranking member.
Having ascended to the ranking member position on the Education Committee back in 2009, when Democrats controlled the House, Kline could be term-limited at the end of this Congress or forced to give up his gavel at the end of 2015.
The Second District congressman is the only member of the Minnesota delegation currently chairing a full committee.
Formally known as the House Education and the Workforce Committee, the panel has broad oversight on all things education, ranging from Head Start to higher ed, along with job training and retirement issues.
To serve another full term as chair, Kline would need to petition the House Republican Steering Committee.
Even among high-ranking Republicans, waiver granting has been a rare occurrence. But Kline has a connection that could aid his cause: He’s long been an ally of House Speaker John Boehner, who chairs the steering committee.
Another Boehner ally, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, won a waiver at the end of 2012, allowing him to stay on as House Budget Committee chairman for another term.
Committee chairs wield great influence on Capitol Hill and are often magnets for campaign cash. When members leave or lose their posts, their fundraising often takes a hit.
Research by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group, found that Democratic committee chairs saw their campaign contributions plummet after Republicans regained control of the House in 2010.
The CREW study found that Kline experienced a 155 percent increase in contributions from education and workforce-related industries while his demoted counterpart, California Democrat George Miller, saw his drop by 52 percent. Much of the shift was driven by the education industry, which more than tripled its contributions to Kline.
Before serving another term as a committee chair becomes an issue for Kline, he’ll have to retain his seat, which covers the suburbs south of the Twin Cities.
The six-term incumbent faces likely primary and general election challenges this year.
Kline’s chairmanship has fueled his commanding fundraising lead over his prospective opponents.
Through the end of December, Kline had $1.6 million banked for his re-election campaign: That’s nearly eight times more than his nearest competitor.
Kline declined an interview request on his campaign to serve another term as committee chair.