An Arkansas Congressman has been recommended to chair the U.S. House Budget Committee. The ascension of Representative Steve Womack to the post comes as Rep. Diane Black steps aside to focus on running for governor of Tennessee. The House Republican Steering Committee announced late Tuesday it chose Womack. The move still has to be voted on by the full House GOP conference and considered on the floor for ratification.
The panel is tasked with drafting an annual budget document outlining GOP priorities. It also has the power to fast-track certain budget items, like the Republican tax plan approved last month. Rep. Womack has been Arkansas’s 3rd District Representative since 2011 and is seeking his fifth term in office.
In a statement, House Speaker Paul Ryan praised Womack’s Washington D.C. experience and outgoing Budget Committee Chair Black.
“I believe Steve Womack is the right man for the job of chairman of the Budget Committee. Steve’s experience in the House, commitment to fiscal conservatism, and relentless pursuit to safeguard taxpayer dollars make him extremely qualified to lead this important committee. I am looking forward to Steve’s service, and I know he will do an excellent job.
“I also want to thank Diane Black for her incredible years of service. Without her leadership in getting the budget passed last year, tax reform would not have been possible.”
Congressman Womack said he is honored to be selected by the Steering Committee.
“There’s no doubt it’s a huge challenge – I’m excited for the chance to lead such an important committee in pursuit of a budget resolution that will address our nation’s priorities while putting America on a sustainable fiscal path.”
Previous GOP House Budget Chairs hailed from a different area of budget-related committee work. Former Budget Committee chairs Paul Ryan and Diane Black both headed the powerful Ways and Means panel which oversees taxes, Social Security and Medicare. Womack is a member of the Appropriations Committee which largely deals with agency budgets.
While many Arkansas Republicans are hailing the selection of one of their own to a major Congressional role, his 2018 U.S. House opponent is characterizing it as the “perfect example of why Washington DC is a cesspool.”
Democratic hopeful Joshua Mahoney issued a statement criticizing Womack’s policies.
“Steve Womack becoming Chair of the House Budget Committee after he voted to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit is the perfect example of why Washington DC is a cesspool of incompetence and absurdity. Washington DC is the only place in the country where the more incompetent you are, the better your chance of getting promoted. It's time to hold career politicians like Steve Womack accountable and fix the mess in Washington.”
Womack also faces a primary opponent, first-time candidate Robb Ryerse. Michael Kalagias is running as a Libertarian for the northwest Arkansas congressional seat.