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Rep. Kathleen Rice criticizes committee assignment process in House

The Garden City Democrat failed to get a seat on the powerful House Judiciary Committee. 

Rep. Kathleen Rice in the basement of the

Rep. Kathleen Rice in the basement of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., Nov. 15, 2018. Photo Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite

Rep. Kathleen Rice on Wednesday criticized the House selection process that excluded her from a high-profile assignment on the Judiciary Committee, but says she will focus on other issues and assignments.

"I have more important things to focus on than whether or not I got a certain committee assignment, especially when I already serve on two great committees that do fantastic work for my district. Do I think this process was conducted on the up and up? No, I don't. But that’s the world we live in,” Rice (D-Garden City) said in a statement.

Rice, who was among members who opposed the election of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as speaker of the House, was one of 10 House Democrats who expressed interest in the Judiciary Committee, as Democratic control of the House gets underway and committee assignments are awarded.

The majority of New York's House delegation supported Rice, a former Nassau County district attorney who easily won re-election in the 4th District in November.

"Kathleen understands the important and wide-ranging mission of the Judiciary Committee, and if appointed to this committee, she would be one of its most experienced attorneys and former law enforcement officials," members of the delegation wrote in a Jan. 8 letter to Pelosi. The letter was signed by 17 of New York's 21 House members.

According to sources who were present during a Tuesday  evening Steering Committee meeting where committee assignments were decided, Pelosi lobbied for other House members over Rice, presenting a nine-member slate that did not include her, the sources said.

Pelosi's slate won 27-21 despite questions from Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans) about whether the committee was breaking protocol by voting on a full slate rather than on individual nominees, sources said.

On Wednesday, however, Rice said she was interested in moving on. She will serve on the Homeland Security and Veteran's Affairs committees. 

“Right now there are thousands of people in my state and in my district who are going without a paycheck as a result of the government shutdown," she said. "Air traffic controllers, TSA agents, IRS employees and government contractors. That's where my focus is, and everything else is white noise as far as I'm concerned.”

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