A move is afoot to separate the House Education and the Workforce Committee into two separate panels.
Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., recently made the case for that change in a letter to Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois.
"Education was a key issue for all congressional and presidential candidates in the 2000 elections and is guaranteed to be in the forefront in the 107th Congress," Mr. Hoekstra wrote. "If we maintain the current committee and attempt to manage both of these issues at this critical time, we will risk losing ground to the minority."
Some observers suggest that Mr. Hoekstra, whose six-year tenure as the chairman of the panel's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee is coming to a close, may have other motives as well.
He is one of at least three Republican lawmakers seeking to become the chairman of the full Education and the Workforce Committee now that its current head, Rep. Bill Goodling, R-Pa., is retiring from Congress.
If the panel were split, Mr. Hoekstra would improve his chances of leading the separate education committee, a job he said he wanted in the letter to Speaker Hastert.
A spokesman for Mr. Hastert said he had no comment on the proposal.
Other members of the GOP majority seeking the chairmanship include Reps. Tom Petri of Wisconsin, who has the most seniority, and John Boehner of Ohio, who has close ties to the House leadership and previously was the chairman of the House Republican Conference.
Members of a GOP steering committee will interview candidates early this month and make their decisions in January.
One Republican aide, who requested anonymity, suggested that Mr. Hoekstra's proposal was unlikely to be approved.
"I don't think there is any momentum in the House to increase the number of committees and the amount of bureaucracy," the aide said.
—Erik W. Robelen
Vol. 20, Issue 14, Page 22