The Men Who Would Lead the US House

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

With the job of Speaker of the House of Representatives up for grabs, and other top majority-party leaders being challenged, contenders for these positions are lining up support among their colleagues on the Hill.

The outcome, to be determined by a Nov. 18 vote, will establish a new GOP leadership team - as well as anoint a new face as the most powerful person in the US House.

The Speaker

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The leader of both the majority party and the institution, the Speaker schedules legislation, deciding what gets to the floor. He also controls the Rules Committee, which sets ground rules for the debate, and he has great influence over who chairs House committees.

The Speaker is also at the center of the information network for House members, as he is frequently involved in meetings with the president and Senate leaders. Candidates for Speaker are as follows.

* Rep. Bob Livingston of Louisiana

A pragmatic conservative known for both his deal-making skills and his hot temper, Mr. Livingston is considered the front-runner in the contest to replace Newt Gingrich. The veteran Southern lawmaker was first elected in 1977 and now chairs the powerful House Appropriations Committee, where he is known as a tough budget-cutter. But Livingston's prominent, intransigent role in the 1995 government shutdown could prove a political liability. (Announced)

* Rep. Christopher Cox of California

A Harvard-educated former White House counsel to President Reagan, Mr. Cox is a conservative known for his low-key style yet firm ideological commitment to shrinking the government. He already occupies a GOP House leadership post as chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, where he has earned a reputation as a strong negotiator on complex legislation. (Announced)

* Rep. David McIntosh of Indiana

Leader of the Conservative Action Team, an influential splinter group of right-wingers, Mr. McIntosh is another Class of 1994 revolutionary who in the past often voiced his opposition to Mr. Gingrich. (Considering)

* Rep. Jim Talent of Missouri

Mr. Talent chairs the House Small Business Committee, where he has promoted cutting both taxes and red tape for small-business owners. A lawyer by training, Talent came to Congress with legislative experience from his eight years as a representative and minority leader in the Missouri House. (Considering)

Majority leader

Rep. Dick Armey of Texas is being challenged for this job, which involves planning party strategy, consulting with other party leaders, and trying to keep members in line for floor votes.

Vying for this position is Rep. Steve Largent of Oklahoma. Best known as a former receiver for the Seattle Seahawks football team, Mr. Largent is an ardent young conservative who came to office in the Republican revolution of 1994. Although he has held no leadership posts, the Tulsa, Okla., native is a leader of the GOP's conservative caucus who describes himself as "uncompromising" on his principles.

Republican conference chairman

Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, faces competition for this post, in which he served as a key lieutenant to Gingrich and devoted himself to keeping the party moving toward fulfillment of the Contract With America.

He is being challenged by Rep. J.C. Watts of Oklahoma, a former professional football player and minister known for his gifted oratory. Mr. Watts, one of the few black GOP House members, has emerged as a key spokesman for Republican policy.

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