WASHINGTON—If Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is swinging a sword against government spending with his 2015 budget proposal, which boasts total cuts of $5.1 trillion, Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga., must be holding a chainsaw. In April, Woodall crafted another GOP budget plan with Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., that would reduce federal spending by $7.4 trillion.
Woodall’s plan debuted when Scalise served as chairman of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), a 176-member caucus of conservative House Republicans. Woodall currently leads the RSC’s Budget and Spending Task Force, but with the recent chain reaction of Republican succession, he is almost certain to land in Scalise’s former shoes, at least for a few months.
After challenger David Brat took House Majority Leader Eric Cantor by surprise in the Virginia Republican primary, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., won a June 19 party election to become the new majority leader. Scalise then emerged victorious from a three-way race to replace McCarthy as majority whip. When he takes office on Aug. 1, the RSC will have a hole in its leadership.
Scalise was prepared to appoint Woodall as the RSC’s interim chairman this Wednesday, but committee members opted to wait two weeks for a formal vote. They hesitated out of respect for procedure rather than scruples about Woodall.
“I’m very glad that my friend and fellow Georgian will take the helm of the RSC during this transition period,” said Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga. “He’s a strong conservative and will provide the steady leadership the organization needs in the coming months.” Graves lost to Scalise in the 2012 contest for RSC chairman.
Woodall awaits election on July 9 to become temporary head and caretaker of the RSC. He will defer to a new full-time chairman serving the standard two-year term after a second round of elections in November.
Of all the items on his legislative agenda, Woodall is “most passionate” about the FairTax bill. First introduced to the House in 1999 by former Rep. John Linder, R-Ga., the act has languished in Congress for 15 years. It would abolish the income tax, disband the IRS, and apply a 23 percent consumer tax to all new purchased goods and services.
This month, Woodall introduced a House bill with Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., to rein in franking, the Congressional mailing privilege that cost nearly $8 million in taxpayer funds last year.
Woodall began his political career in 1994, dropping out of law school at the University of Georgia to become a legislative correspondent for Linder. He finished his law degree in 1998 and was promoted to Linder’s chief of staff in 2000.
“Rob Woodall is a very thoughtful, upbeat, and knowledgeable member of Congress and is particularly well versed on spending issues,” said Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo.