Republicans hope to take back the House. Here’s what it could mean for Colorado’s representatives

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Colorado U.S. Rep. Ken Buck at the 2022 Republican State Assembly in Colorado Springs, April 9, 2022.

With a possible change of leadership for the House of Representatives would likely come a change of positions for some Colorado congress members.

If Republicans take control of the chamber next congress, as is largely expected, a couple of Colorado Republicans could be picking up subcommittee gavels, while Democratic members will give up their seats as chair to become, in some cases, ranking members.

While he’s not measuring any drapes, GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn said he would seek the chairmanship of the Strategic Forces subcommittee of the House Armed Services committee. He was named the ranking member of that committee in January.

The delegation’s longest serving Republican, Lamborn, who also currently sits on the House Natural Resources committee, said the committee handles issues that are important for Colorado, and the whole country.

“It deals with issues that are really strategic and vital to our national defense,” Lamborn said, pointing to space systems, missile defense, and hypersonics, as some examples. “Those are all things that… have a strong Colorado presence, but they’re also vital for our national defense.”

GOP Rep. Ken Buck said much “depends on how big of a majority [Republicans] have and it depends on where the priorities are.” Buck is currently the ranking member of the Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law subcommittee on the House Judiciary committee, where he’s worked with a bipartisan group to tackle the growing power of Big Tech.

“Certainly I would enjoy continuing to work on anti-trust issues,” Buck said. He added he’d try to keep encouraging his fellow Republicans to see anti-trust as a tool to deal with the largest tech companies.

Buck also has seniority on Judiciary’s Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee. His other committee is the House Foreign Affairs committee.

The ranking member usually has the inside track to chair when control of the House flips. But both parties have their own process for selecting leaders within committees.

Democrats and Republicans each have standing committees that nominate members for committees and chair assignments, which are then voted on by the full caucus. When it comes to subcommittee chairs, Democrats usually bid, in order of seniority, and it then has to be approved by the committee caucus. Republicans usually let the committee chair determine the procedure for subcommittee chair selection.

As for freshman GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert, who sits on the House Natural Resources and Budget committees and has the highest national profile in the delegation, she said she’s not planning on running for any leadership positions. She noted she’s communications chair of the Freedom Caucus “and that’s the caucus that matters the most to me.”

Instead of looking at who is or isn’t jockeying for positions, Boebert said the media should be “more interested on inflation, the southern border, jobs, getting control back of our country, rather than meaningless leadership positions here in Washington, D.C.”

Still, subcommittee leaderships can be important perches for oversight and moving bills.

Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette, as chair of the oversight and investigations subcommittee on Energy and Commerce, has held hearings on everything from the price of oil to the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rep. Joe Neguse, chair of the House Natural Resources Committee’s subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public lands, was able to move lots of legislation through.  Meanwhile, his fellow second term Congressman Jason Crow is chair of the Small Business Committee’s subcommittee on Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Workforce Development.

If control of the chamber moves to Republicans, all three will be handing over those positions to members of the other party.

Regardless of party affiliation, Colorado will get two additional freshman lawmakers next Congress to throw into the committee mix — the representative from CO-7, who will replace retiring Democrat Ed Perlmutter and the representative from the new CO-8. While some first term lawmakers are named ranking members, it would be unusual for one to be appointed to a subcommittee chair spot.