WASHINGTON — Rep. James Lankford, finishing just his first term in Congress, has apparently locked down a position in the House Republican leadership, the latest surprising move for the Oklahoma City lawmaker, who was running a Baptist youth camp only three years ago.
After weeks of behind-the-scenes work to gauge interest in the post, Lankford announced Thursday that he would seek the chairmanship of the House Republican Policy Committee. Lankford said in an interview that he didn't know of any other members running for the position, the fifth-ranking spot in the Republican leadership hierarchy.
The House GOP leadership elections are scheduled for next week.
The policy committee doesn't handle legislation and has no clout in setting the House agenda. It is, rather, more like a think tank composed of lawmakers. The committee works on developing House Republican positions on issues like energy, taxes and health care.
Lankford said Thursday, “I'm not one who has a passion for politics. I do have a passion for ideas.”
He acknowledged that the Republican-controlled House was going to have to compromise with President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate but said that wouldn't influence the products developed by the policy committee.
“I don't think the policy changes or the solutions change,” he said, adding that it would be up to other leaders to determine how Republican positions would be shaped in negotiations with Democrats.