Texas County’s congressman, Jason Smith, won the nomination Monday to become chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee.
The selection means a powerful gavel for Salem’s Smith, 42, that will impact federal revenue and spending — from the federal tax code and trade policy to Medicare and Social Security.
Once the House Republican Conference formally ratifies the steering panel selection, Smith will become the youngest-ever chairman of Ways and Means. He’ll break the previous record set by former Rep. Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., who was just shy of 45 when he became chairman in 2015 before ending that year as speaker.
Smith said Monday that his pitch to Republicans was the record of his work as the Budget Committee’s top GOP member and that “providing for working-class Americans is my focus.”
Smith got the nod in a secret-ballot vote of the Republican Steering Committee that nominates committee chairs. He pulled it off after being the last candidate to jump into the race and even as he jumps the line in seniority over competitors, Vern Buchanan of Florida and Andrian Smith of Nebraska.
In a statement after the vote, Jason Smith called it “deeply humbling and an honor” to be selected.
“With our new House Republican majority, we have made a commitment to the American people to build a stronger economy that gives everyone — not just the wealthy and politically-connected — greater opportunity to build a more prosperous future for themselves and their families,” Smith said.
The vote went to a second ballot after no candidate won majority support on the first ballot. Adrian Smith, with the least number of first-ballot votes, was eliminated, leaving Jason Smith and Buchanan going head-to-head.
If approved, Smith would succeed former Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, who retired from Congress after a six-year run atop the GOP side of Ways and Means that included shepherding through the party’s 2017 law to cut the corporate tax rate and trim most individual income tax rates. Republicans’ conference rules limit committee chairs to serving three straight terms, meaning this would likely kick off a six-year run atop Ways and Means.
Smith’s selection comes after a grueling process that saw 15 votes before Rep. Kevin McCarthy was picked as Speaker of the House early Saturday.
Smith, a strong supporter of former President Donald Trump who considered making a run last year for the U.S. Senate, will become the second Ways and Means chairman to represent Missouri in Congress. The first was Rep. John S. Phelps, a Democrat who held the gavel in 1858-1859.