Arkansas' Second District Congressman Tim Griffin (R) has been named to the powerful House Ways and Means committee, the chief tax-writing panel in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The second-term Republican says he'll not seek higher office in 2014 in order to “concentrate on the committee's important work.”
The Ways and Means committee has jurisdiction over the nation's tax code, revenue-raising mechanisms, Medicare, Social Security, trade policy and unemployment benefits.
“I've been really interested in being on Ways and Means for some time because of the subject matter under its jurisdiction,” Griffin tells Talk Business from his Washington, D.C. office. “A lot of things we've got to do to save these programs for the next generation has to be done in this committee, as well as tax reform.”
The committee's influence is so substantial that its members are not allowed to serve on any other House panel and Griffin said it will be his only committee assignment.
Griffin's appointment to Ways and Means has an extra layer of symbolism as one of the most powerful Congressmen in history was former Arkansas Second District Rep. Wilbur Mills (D), who chaired the committee for nearly two decades from the mid-50's to the mid-70's. Arkansas has not had a Congressional member on House Ways and Means in nearly 20 years when then-Fourth District Congressman Beryl Anthony (D) served on the panel.
The appointment will also alter Griffin's political future. Amid speculation that he could seek a challenge to Sen. Mark Pryor (D) in 2014 or make a gubernatorial bid for the open Governor's seat next cycle, Griffin said the appointment means he will seek re-election to Congress in two years.
“I'm not going to run for Senate and I'm not going to run for Governor. I'd like to put those rumors to rest,” Griffin said. “I'm very honored and excited about this opportunity. I look forward to the work we have to do and I want to be unequivocal that I'll be focused on Ways and Means in the House.”
Griffin was just elected to his second term in Congress earlier this month with more than 58% of the vote.