Moderate Rep. Roukema Denied Banking Chair

Rep. Marge Roukema of New Jersey

WASHINGTON (WOMENSENEWS)-When House Republican leaders reshuffled committee chairmanships last week, they pushed aside moderate Rep. Marge Roukema of New Jersey who was in line by seniority to chair the powerful House Banking Committee. She would have been the first woman to head a major House committee.

Roukema, a 20-year member of Congress, had campaigned for the post but the House leaders decided to award the chairmanship as a consolation prize to one of two men who had wanted to head the Commerce Committee. Rep. Mike Oxley of Ohio, a major fundraiser, got the Banking Committee chair, although he has had no experience on the Banking Committee. The Commerce Committee prize went to a former Democrat, Rep. Billy Tauzin of Louisiana.

House leaders reportedly had made a deal with the incoming Bush administration to appoint Roukema as U.S. Treasurer, a figurehead job. Roukema said she “was gravely disappointed” by being pushed aside for Banking chair and, apparently unwilling to give up her safe congressional seat, declined the consolation job at Treasury.