Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Out as Foreign Affair Committee Chair

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., who has led the Foreign Affairs Committee for the past two years, is stepping down from her new role and a new chairman will take her place -- resulting in a male-dominated committee.

Top House Republicans announced that Rep. Ed Royce of California will take over as chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. The move was among several recommendations for Congress committee chairmanships announced Tuesday, resulting in an all-male list including returning Paul Ryan to the Budget panel, as well as seven new faces to head other committees.

Ros-Lehtinen had served four years as a ranking GOP member of the committee -- so she had served the six years allowed under party rules. The GOP said it would waive the party's six-year term limit for Ryan, R-Wis., to keep his chairmanship.

Ros-Lehtinen, who as chairwoman was the highest ranking and most visible Latina in Congress, said she did not request an exemption for the six-year term limit, saying Ryan was an exception because “he was our vice presidential candidate.” She said she had been happy to serve.

"It's been a great privilege and a great honor," she told the Miami Herald.

As for the lack of women, she noted that Boehner had yet to pick chairs for two panels—the Ethics and House Administration committees—and said, "Don't write the headline yet."

When questioned on the lack of women among the leaders’ recommendations to head committees, Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, noted three women have been selected to the party’s leadership for next year. They included Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., who will be the No. 4 House GOP leader.

Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., who had been hoping to become chair of the Homeland Security Committee, issued a statement congratulating Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, whom the leaders proposed to take over the panel from Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.

"Our team will continue focusing on reforms that will grow our economy and create new jobs, and on holding the Obama administration accountable through aggressive oversight of the executive branch," Boehner said in a written statement. "The House of Representatives is an outpost in Democratic-controlled Washington for the priorities of the American people, and I have every confidence that the chairmen selected today are up to the task of translating those priorities into solutions Americans are counting on to get our economy moving again."

The recommendations are made by the 34-member House Republican Steering Committee, consisting of Boehner, other GOP leaders, some committee chairs and other lawmakers representing geographic regions, as well as the freshmen and sophomore classes of House Republicans.

The recommendations are scheduled to be voted on Wednesday by all House Republicans. Traditionally, challenges to the leaders’ suggested chairmanships are rare and none are expected on Wednesday.

In other changes, Rep. Robert Goodlatte, R-Va., would replace Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, atop the Judiciary Committee. Smith would take over the Science, Space and Technology panel from Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Texas. And Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., would head the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, now headed by Rep. John Mica, R-Fla.

Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, will head the Rules Committee instead of Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., who is retiring. That job is made by appointment by the speaker and is not subject to approval by the rest of the House GOP.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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