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New House GOP Leaders Will Change the Congressional Agenda

Republican takeover means new committee chairmen and new priorities on issues affecting 50+ Americans.

Financial Services. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., who opposed Wall Street reform, would take over from liberal chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., who spearheaded the drive to get it passed. Bachus was once a bit of a conciliator on the issue, participating in talks on the financial industry bailout with Democrats. But when Republican leaders balked at the original deal he negotiated with Democrats, he was replaced in the talks, though he still voted for the TARP legislation. He seems to have regained Boehner's trust, however, and is in line for the chairmanship.

Energy and Commerce. Joe Barton, R-Texas, got himself in trouble with Republican leaders with his public apology to British Petroleum for the $20 billion the company agreed to pay during the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. He is still in line for the chair, but if Republicans want to make an example of someone for intemperate comments, he could be the one to lose his seat. A likely replacement would be Fred Upton, R-Mich., who has a reputation as a more moderate voice — a plus and a minus this year.

This committee has become a hotbed for authorization of infrastructure projects, particularly in light of the stimulus money available, and potential chairman John Mica, R-Fla., has been in the thick of it. He is looking to put a lot of money into Florida for future rail, road and bridge projects. But with conservative Tea Partiers coming to Capitol Hill, such largess may take a hit, because GOP leaders say they are going back to 2008 funding levels for projects.

Elaine S. Povich is a veteran Washington-based reporter.

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