House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., has selected a new Republican to head the China panel after its current leader, Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., abruptly announced on Friday his departure from Congress.

Rep. John Moolenaar, R-Mich., said Monday that Johnson had selected him to fill the vacancy atop the House’s Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party.

“I am thankful to the Speaker for this appointment, and I look forward to working with Ranking Member [Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill.], the members of the Select Committee, House leaders and the standing committees in the weeks and months ahead,” Moolenaar said in a statement on Monday. “Together we can help our country prepare for the challenges that we face from the Chinese Communist Party and win the competition against the CCP.”

Moolenaar already sits on the 24-member committee, which House Republicans established last year to put forth a wide array of U.S.-China policy recommendations. While Gallagher also sits on the Armed Services Committee, and chairs its cyber and information technology panel, Moolenaar does not sit on any of the other national security committees. As an appropriator, Moolenaar sits on the agriculture and labor spending panels.

Under Gallagher, the China panel advanced 10 bipartisan recommendations last year to deter Beijing from attacking Taiwan shortly after the panel hosted war games that found the U.S. would quickly run out of munitions in the event of a war.

The recommendations included the establishment of a war reserve stockpile in Taiwan, prioritizing weapons deliveries for Taipei, speeding up the roughly $19 billion arms sale backlog to the island and authorizing multiyear munitions procurement contracts.

The China panel is one of the few committees to work across party lines in an increasingly polarized legislature where the right-flank of the razor-thin Republican majority has hurled various procedural road blocks against leadership – often grinding House business to a halt.

The outgoing Gallagher had already announced that he would not seek reelection this year, but announced he would leave early in a surprise announcement March 22 shortly after Congress passed a fiscal 2024 spending package nearly six months late.

Gallagher said he would leave office on April 19, ensuring that his seat will remain vacant through the rest of the year. If Gallagher leaves before April 9, Wisconsin state law stipulates that there would be a special election to fill his seat before the end of the year.

The timing ensures House Republicans will operate on a one-vote margin after Gallagher’s departure given the immediate resignation last Friday of Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo. The special election to replace Buck in Colorado is slated for June 25.

House Appropriations Chairwoman Kay Granger, R-Texas, also announced Friday she would step down as head of the powerful panel, citing her expectation that the FY25 appropriations process will spill over into next year after she leaves Congress. While Granger is not seeking reelection either, she intends to serve out the rest of her term in Congress through December.

Shortly after Granger’s announcement on Friday, Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., a defense appropriator and the Rules Committee chairman, said he would like to take her place as Appropriations chairman.

“At the end of the day, I am a budget hawk,” Cole said in a statement. “I believe in stretching our budget’s dollars as far as we can, but I also recognize there are critical needs and challenges that must be funded if our great nation is going to be protected, preserve and improved. However, as chairman, I will ensure that, in doing this, we are not wasting and abusing.”

Bryant Harris is the Congress reporter for Defense News. He has covered U.S. foreign policy, national security, international affairs and politics in Washington since 2014. He has also written for Foreign Policy, Al-Monitor, Al Jazeera English and IPS News.

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