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Jewish Reps. Do the Committee Shuffle

As the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee prepares to dole out committee assignments, a number of Jewish lawmakers are jockeying for position.

California Rep. Adam Schiff is aiming for a spot on the powerful Appropriations committee. As we’ve mentioned before, Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida and Allyson Schwartz of Pennsylvania are both vying for Ways and Means. Last week, all of the fellow members of Wasserman Schultz’s Florida delegation sent a letter to Pelosi on her behalf.

Committee assignments are of particular importance to freshman lawmakers who may face tough re-election battles. The Jewish Democratic delegation includes several newbies who narrowly won election in November, such as: Ron Klein of Florida (with a 51-47 win over incumbent Clay Shaw); John Yarmuth of Kentucky (with a 51-48 win over incumbent Anne Northrup); and Steve Kagen of Wisconsin (with a 51-49 win over John Gard).

Kagen has said publicly that he is hoping to snag seats on the House agriculture, education and transportation committees, while others have been more circumspect.

The “negotiations [are] delicate,” said one source familiar with New Hampshire Rep.-elect Paul Hodes’s interests, who did not want to be named due to the sensitivity of the subject. “They say the one task of freshman is to get re-elected, so he’s looking for committee assignments that will help him provide deliverables – not pork – for the district.”

Despite Hodes’s past experience as an assistant attorney general and prosecutor, the source said it was unlikely he would seek a spot on the Judiciary committee, due to the many “hot-button votes” that would surely arise.

Rep.-elect Ron Klein declined to tell the Forward which committees he is gunning for, but said that his areas of interest include energy policy, veterans’ issues and the problems surrounding homeowner’s insurance in south Florida. According to The Hill,
Klein is also among the long list of legislators seeking a spot on Ways and Means. This could put him in competition with Wasserman Schultz, even though he signed the Florida delegation letter on her behalf.

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