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Shimkus Seeks Chairmanship of House Energy and Commerce Committee

Illinois Congressman John Shimkus (R-Collinsville) has joined the list of Republicans seeking to chair the House Energy and Commerce Committee next year.

News reports have listed Michigan Republican Fred Upton as a front-runner for the position. He has more seniority than Shimkus, but some conservative groups say he's too moderate. Shimkus stated that he will leave that question to the House Republican Steering Committee, when decisions on leadership posts are made next month.

"The steering committee has to decide, kind of what position do you want to lead from?" Shimkus said. "I'm viewed as more conservative; Fred's viewed as a little more moderate. They may want that. I don't know. I just want to have the opportunity to make my pitch."

Congressman Cliff Stearns (R-Florida) and former Energy Committee Chairman Joe Barton of (R-Texas) are also seeking the chairmanship. Shimkus said he would step aside if Barton receives a waiver that would allow him to be chairman again.

Shimkus said a top priority as Energy and Commerce chairman would be to have a vote on repealing the federal health reform law. A repeal is unlikely to make it through the Senate, but Shimkus said the sooner the House takes action, the faster it can focus on oversight and making revisions to the law. He said there may even be changes where both Republicans and the Obama administration can reach agreement.

"Hopefully there will be some that the administration helps identify as problems that we fix, that will not be controversial," Shimkus said. "Obviously there'll be things that they'll want to keep, and we're just going to have to have those fights."

Shimkus said one such change could be the repeal of a requirement in the health care law that companies issue 1099 tax forms whenever they buy more than $600 in goods or services in a given year. Shimkus said the millions of new tax documents that result would be a burden on small businesses.

Shimkus is a 14-year member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He is currently the ranking minority member of its Health Subcommittee.

Categories: Government, Politics