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Downstate Republican Vies for Committee Chair Post

By Kevin Robinson in News on Nov 10, 2010 2:45PM

John Shimkus
Republican Congressman John Shimkus, of downstate Collinsville, is making a long-shot bid for chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Politico is reporting. The downstate congressman will become the most powerful Illinois Republican in Congress if he can bypass several other, more senior congressman for the seat.

Shimkus circulated a letter among GOP congressmen this week, touting his leadership role on the National Republican Congressional Committee, and his work as a ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Health. Among his leadership credentials, Shimkus is promoting the Republican line of repealing the health care reform bill. Recognizing the unlikely scenario where a full repeal of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Shimkus is promoting oversight of the Act, as well as "legislative fixes" as remedies to what the GOP sees as a “flawed and dangerous law.”

In his letter to congressional Republicans, Shimkus noted that his bid for committee chair is only "relevant" if Republican congressman Joe Barton of Texas doesn't become chairman. Barton would need to get a term limits waiver to rules that restrict Republicans six years as a committee chair or ranking minority member. That seems unlikely, setting the stage for a leadership fight between Shimkus and Michigan congressman Fred Upton.

According to Politico, conservative groups are getting organized to block Upton, citing his legislative record going back to the 1990's. Shimkus comes with his own baggage, however, having been caught up in Mark Foley's page scandal in 2006.

Shimkus says he's the more conservative member, arguing that if Congress can't get the Senate to go along with a repeal of the health care law, “we can then turn our sights to exhaustive oversight and legislative fixes in this flawed and dangerous law.”