U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) on Thursday was elected ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform for the 118th Congress — a powerful position once held by his friend and fellow Marylander, the late Rep. Elijah Cummings (D).
After winning the endorsement of the House Democratic Steering Committee last week, Raskin was elected by a 133-75 vote of the full Democratic caucus Thursday, defeating Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly. He succeeds outgoing New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who was defeated in a Democratic primary earlier this year.
“I am truly humbled and honored beyond measure to be elected Ranking Member of the House Oversight Committee for the 118th Congress,” Raskin said in a statement. “I was recruited to this Committee by Representative Elijah Cummings on my first day of my first Term and it is overwhelming to think I will now be one of his successors. I am thinking about him a lot today.”
To win the post, Raskin leap-frogged two more senior members on the panel who were also seeking the top Democratic slot: Connolly and Massachusetts Rep. Stephen Lynch. Lynch withdrew from the race earlier this week after receiving just seven votes in the steering committee tally (Raskin picked up 30 votes there and Connolly got 19 votes).
“I want to thank Representatives Steve Lynch and Gerry Connolly for their remarkable work, integrity and commitment to the Oversight Committee, and all my colleagues for entrusting me with this awesome responsibility,” Raskin said Thursday. “And a special shout-out to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus for endorsing my candidacy many weeks ago.”
Raskin currently serves as chair of the Oversight Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, where he led a seven-part series on the rise of violent white supremacy and convened hearings exposing censorship and book banning in public schools, among many other projects. He was the lead House impeachment manager in the second impeachment trial of former President Trump and is a Member of the Select Committee on the January 6 attack, which is wrapping up its work.
As ranking member on the Oversight panel, Raskin is expected to frequently do battle with the chair, Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), who has promised to launch probes on President Biden’s family’s business dealings, border security and COVID-19 funding, among other topics. Comer this week also said the FBI needs to be “dismantled.”
“I look forward to championing our Democratic priorities on the House’s lead investigative committee and drawing on the remarkable talents and voices of our Democratic Members,” Raskin said in his statement.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), the incoming House minority leader, praised Raskin and other newly-appointed Democratic committee leaders. “As we chart our path forward, it is crucial that we have strong, principled leadership at the helm of each of our committees,” he said.
Raskin’s elevation to the top slot on the Oversight committee could have implications for the 2024 U.S. Senate race in Maryland. The congressman, who was just elected to his fourth term, is considered a potential Senate candidate if Sen. Ben Cardin (D) decides not to seek another term. Cardin, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 and whose political career began in 1966, will be 80 on Election Day in 2024.
Raskin may be less likely to seek the Senate seat in the next election — especially if he believes the Democrats have a chance of retaking the House in 2024, which would make him chair of the Oversight panel (a progression Cummings made, from ranking member to chair). Other potential Democratic candidates for the Senate seat include Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and Rep. David Trone.