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Rep. Jason Smith will seek reelection instead of joining crowded Senate race

Smith is a common name but it won’t be on the ballot for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in Missouri.

Rep. Jason Smith is telling colleagues he wants to be the next chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee. Smith, the top Republican on the Budget Committee, instead is seeking a sixth term representing his southeastern Missouri House district.

That could be likely as both Democrat and Republican pollsters say Democrats are set to lose both the Senate and House by historic numbers in the fall.

“My colleagues put me in a position to lead our conference at the Budget Committee, and I think they have been happy with that choice,” Smith told NBC News, pointing to his efforts to oppose President Biden’s COVID relief and Build Back Better packages. “I am ready to be the next Republican chair of Ways and Means.”

READ: Senator Josh Hawley endorses Rep. Vicky Hartzler for U.S. Senate seat

The decision will pit Smith against two more senior GOP members of the Ways and Means Committee — Vern Buchanan of Florida and Adrian Smith of Nebraska. The top Ways and Means post is one of the most powerful and coveted jobs in Congress. The committee has jurisdiction over all taxation, tariff and trade issues, as well as Social Security, Medicare and welfare programs.

Because of a pair of key departures from the House, a competitive race to lead the committee is taking shape. Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on Ways and Means, who led the committee during the passage of the 2017 tax reform bill, is retiring after 13 terms. And the lawmaker who was favored to succeed him, Devin Nunes, R-Calif., resigned from Congress to become CEO of former President Trump’s new media company.

For the past year, Smith had been flirting with launching a bid to replace retiring Sen. Roy Blunt, even hiring former Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien as his campaign consultant. But the Senate race attracted at least a half-dozen GOP hopefuls, including two of Smith’s colleagues in the House, Vicky Hartzler and Billy Long, as well as state Attorney General Eric Schmitt and former Gov. Eric Greitens.

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice

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