WASHINGTON, Dec. 10, 2015 - Three years after he was ousted from the House Agriculture Committee, Kansas Republican Tim Huelskamp landed a coveted spot on the panel that makes GOP committee assignments.
Huelskamp said his election to an at-large seat on the Republican Steering Committee was a victory for conservatives and that he expects to get back on the Agriculture Committee in time for the next Congress, if not earlier. The 2014 farm bill will expire near the end of the next Congress.“By all rights, a fifth generation farmer with a Ph. D in ag policy has something to offer” the Agriculture Committee, Huelskamp told Agri-Pulse.
Huelskamp was one of six at-large seats filled in an overhaul of the Steering Committee that Paul Ryan had promised to win support from conservatives when he ran for speaker in October. Huelskamp received the second-largest number of votes from colleagues, behind Susan Brooks of Indiana.
Huelskamp was one of several hard-line conservatives who were punished for bucking the party while John Boehner was House Speaker. Removing Huelskamp from the Agriculture Committee left his sprawling Kansas district without a seat on that panel while the 2014 farm bill was being developed.
“I have had a number of members of the Steering Committee say, ‘Hey, you know what, that needs to be taken care of’,'” Huelskamp said, referring to the Agriculture seat. “When Ryan ran for speaker I didn’t ask for that specific thing, and he wasn’t promising anything like that.”
Huelskamp faces two challengers in the Republican primary for his seat next year -- Roger Marshall, an obstetrician, and Alan LaPolice, a student retention specialist for a community college.
Huelskamp earned a doctorate from American University in political science, with a concentration in agricultural policy.
He will be one of two members of the House Freedom Caucus on Steering. The other, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming. holds a regional seat.
By early Thursday afternoon, Huelskamp said he had “a lot of colleagues already calling me, talking about their requests for committee assignments and reassignments.”
FreedomWorks, a conservative advocacy group, said Huelskamp’s election to Steering was “a positive sign and a step in the right direction” for Ryan’s leadership.