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Rep. McKeon to Leave GOP Top Spot on Ed. Panel

Inside Baseball Alert: Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., is going to be the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, replacing Rep. John McHugh of New York, who is going to work in the Obama administration.

That means McKeon won't be the ranking member on the House Education and Labor Committee anymore, because lawmakers typically don't hold that slot on two different committees. (For more on McKeon, check out this interview at the GOP convention.)

Republicans will get to choose a replacement for McKeon, and the pick could have major implications for No Child Left Behind Act reauthorization in the House. If they pick someone who really doesn't like the expanded role for the federal government in the law, which many Republicans don't, it may be much tougher to put together a bipartisan reauthorization.

A couple of things to keep in mind. Lawmakers often, but not always, go by seniority in picking chairman and ranking members. And Rep. John A. Boehner of Ohio, the Minority Leader and a key author of the NCLB law, will have a major role in picking McKeon's successor. My guess is that it's unlikely he'd want to back someone who has very different views on education than his own.

But Republicans are divided on education issues.

First up in seniority is Rep. Thomas E. Petri of Wisconsin, a moderate who has bucked his party on student lending and other issues.

And then there's Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, a conservative and most famous for this bill. If he took the slot, it would make for a really interesting contrast with Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the chairman of the panel. But Hoekstra is leaving to run for governor of the Wolverine State after this Congress, so he wouldn't be in the role for long and may not be interested.

Next is Rep. Mike Castle of Delaware, a moderate former governor who is very engaged on education issues and good at working across the aisle. Castle has his own NCLB bill, summarized here. But, as with Hoekstra, it's unclear whether he'd keep the slot for long. There are rumors that he may run for Senate after this Congress, or even retire.

After Castle comes Rep. Mark E. Souder of Indiana, who tends to be pretty conservative on education issues. For instance, he went off on the common standards movement during this hearing, the only crack in the bipartisan love-fest for CCSSO and NGA's effort.

Of course, it could always be someone else...

UPDATE: Souder is definitely interested in the job.

UPDATE 2: Add Reps. Joe Wilson of South Carolina and John Kline of Minnesota to the list, according to this story.

UPDATE 3: Kline is a top contender, according to the always-informative Charlie Barone, and news reports from the Hill.

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