Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) was chosen Thursday as the next chairman of the House Oversight Committee.
Gowdy never officially announced a bid for the post, but he was considered a lock to get it ahead of the House GOP Steering Committee’s meeting Thursday where the decision was made.
“I am grateful to the Steering Committee and the Conference as a whole for this opportunity to serve,” Gowdy said in a statement.
“I look forward to working alongside the other Committee members, as well as any member of Congress, as we discharge the jurisdiction assigned to us.”
The former prosecutor is best known for his role leading the House select committee that investigated the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
The Benghazi panel played a key role in helping uncover that Hillary Clinton used a private email server while secretary of State. Gowdy led the panel for nearly two years until it closed down in late 2016.
Gowdy will now be tasked with oversight of the Trump administration, a position that could at times put him at odds with a president from his own party.
The outgoing Oversight chairman, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), had already at times found himself investigating the Trump administration. He has looked into ex-White House national security adviser’s Michael Flynn’s paid speech in Russia and whether Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway violated ethics rules by promoting Ivanka Trump’s clothing line.
Chaffetz also asked the FBI for copies of former director James Comey’s memos detailing interactions with President Trump. So far, the FBI has not provided the Oversight Committee with the documents.
Chaffetz is resigning from Congress at the end of June. Had he chosen to stay, he could have kept the Oversight gavel through 2020 under the House GOP’s rules limiting chairmen to three consecutive terms.
The House GOP conference is expected to ratify the Steering Committee’s selection as soon as Tuesday. At that point, Gowdy would immediately take over as Oversight Committee chairman.
Gowdy’s takeover of the House Oversight Committee marks a swift rise in Congress since first winning election in 2010.
He’ll become chairman of one of the most powerful committees in Congress despite being only eighth in seniority on the panel.
Gowdy is leap-frogging multiple members of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative hardliners who have repeatedly clashed with GOP leaders.
Many Freedom Caucus members favored Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who’s third in seniority. But Jordan himself acknowledged that his past tenure leading the Freedom Caucus made it unlikely he’d secure enough support on the GOP leadership-controlled Steering Committee to win the Oversight gavel.
Only one other Oversight Committee member announced a bid to succeed Chaffetz: Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.). But Russell was considered a long shot, especially given that he is 18th in seniority on the committee.