When Congress convenes in January, only two chairmen of House committees - Education and Labor's Carl Perkins (D-Ky.) and Commerce's Harley Staggers (D-W.Va.) - will have held their posts for more than six years.
At least five and possibly seven of the 22 standing House committees will have new leaders.
And because of retirements, defeats, convictions, indictments and reprimands, House subcommittees will be playing a form of musical chairmen.
Four chairmen are retiring this year, a fifth was defeated in the primary and two current chairmen may lose their posts.
The retirements will bring new leaders on two of the House's most important committees, Rules and Appropriations. No serious fights are expect for any of the five vacant jobs, and only on Rules is the change in leadership likely to affect committee operations. On Rules, Rep. Richard Rolling (D-Mo.) Is likely to work more closely with other House Leaders than did retiring Chairman James J. Delaney (D-N.Y.).
Fights could develop over the other two committees. D.C. Committee Chairman Charles Diggs (D-Mich.), who was convicted of taking salary kickbacks from his staff, was overwhelmingly reelected last Tuesday, but it likely to lose his committee post. Budget Committee Chairman Robert Giaimo (D-Conn.) wants to keep this job, but House rules call for a rotating chairmanship on that committee and Glaimo's four-year team is up. For him to stay on, the rules would have to be changed.
The leadership is somewhat sympathetic to Glatmo, but a recent poll of House Democrats showed opposition to any change in the rules. Three younger members of the Budget Committee, Reps. David Obey (D-Wis.), Norman Nineta, (D-Calif.) and Paul Simon (D-Ill.), would like the job.
Several key committee posts will change hands because of retirements, including the Commerce subcommittee on health, and the Ways and Means subcommittee on Social Security. Others, especially on appropriations, will have new leaders because of defeats and scandal.
The outlook for the various committees and subcommittees looks like this:
Appropriations - With the retirement of 43-year veteran Rep. George Mahon (D-Tex.), Rep. Jamie Whitten (D-Miss.) is expected to head the committee that decides how much the government spends. Whitten, a somewhat abrasive arch-conservative, is not popular with the liberals. They might challenge him, but he should survive. Already, House Speaker Thoms P. O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) has made it clear he strongly backs Whitten. It is possible, however, that Whitten, unlike Mahon, will not chair the defense subcommitted.
That would mean that for the first time, the subcommittee would be headed by a dovish liberal, Rep. Joseph Addabbo (D-N.Y.), which might satisfy liberal migivings about Whitten.
Rules - Bolling, 62, who's waited 30 years for a chairmanship, will be onf of the youngest Rules Committee chairmen since World War II. A powerful and influential ally of the leadership. Bolling has in fact run the committee for the last four years. He has had many bruising battles over the years and championed some controversial reform proposals and expects a sizable vote against him, as a warning against trying to make sweeping changes in the House rules.
Ethics - Officially known as the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, the committee under Rep. John Flynt (D-Ga.) was frequently accused of foot-dragging during the just-completed investigations of Korean influence buying. Just the opposite may be true if Rep. Charles E. Bennett (D-Fla.) succeeds Flynt. Bennett is known as a rigid Puritan, whose elevation to chairman strikes fear of witch hunts into many members' hearts. There't talk that perhaps the Ethics Committee should be disbanded and its duties transferred to a select committee on ethics headed by Rep. Richardson Preyer (D-N.C.), whose committee was formed to codify the House's new ethics code. Republicans might have a political field day with shenanigans like that, however, and for now, Bennett is the heir apparent.
Science and Technology - No problem here. Rep. Don Fuque (D-Fla.) though conservative, is expected to be the uncontested successor to conservative. Olin Teague (D-Tex.) who is retiring.
Post Office and Civil Service - Rep. James Hanley (D-N.Y.), colorless but non-controversial, is in line to succeed Rep. Robert Hix (D-Pa.), who was defeated in the primary.
District of Columbia - Though blacks may rise to his defense, there is little doubt that Diggs will be defeated if he tries to get reelected chairman of the committee. Another black, Rep. Ron Dellums (D-Calif.), is next in line.
There is an alternative solution. Liberals think it might be the time to abolish some committees with narrow constituencies, D.C. and Post Office are high on their list, along with a select committee on congressional operations headed by Rep. Jack Brooks (D-Tex.).
But abolishing the D.C. committee would leave blacks in the House without a chairmanship, something liberals may be reluctant to allow. In addition, Democrats may be reluctant to start an abolition fight over the other committees, at least at the opening gun of the session.
It's also possible Diggs won't contest the D.C. committee chairmanship but he may fight to hold on to his job as chairman of the African subcommittee on the International Relations Committee.
Subcommittees - Only Appropriations subcommittee chairmen must be elected by the Democratic caucus. Other subcommittees choose their own chairmen.
But filing the Appropriations subcommittee spots may be one of the biggest headaches the caucus will have next year.
Rep. Dan Flood (D-Pa.) was indicted on charges of conspiracy and bribery for trading his influence as subcommitte chairman for $65,000 and 100 shares of bank stock. Flood was reelected, but is likely to be bounced as Labor-HEW subcommittee chairman because of the indictment.
Rep. William Natcher (D-Ky.) is in line to succeed Flood. If Natcher decides to keep the D.C. subcommittee he now chairs, Rep. Neal Smith (D-Iowa), a leading liberal, would be the heir apparent.
Unlike Flood, Rep. John McFall (D-Calif.), chairman of the transportation subcommittee, who was reprimanded in the Korean probe for taking a contribution from Korean businessman Tongsun Park and putting it in his office account, lost in his reelection bid.
Rep. Tom Steed (D-Okla.) is in line to succeed McFall, but would have to give up his Treasury-Post Office subcommittee. If he does, it could create a comedy of errors. Every Democrat on Steed's subcommittee, chairs another subcommittee, is about to chair one, or has touched by the Korean influence-buying scandal.
Other important subcommittees open include three on Commerce and one on ways and means.
The retirement of Rap. Paul Rogers (D-Fla.) leaves vacant the Commerce subcommittee on health, which handles important issues such as clean air, national health insurance and hospital cost containment. Rep. David Satterfield (D-Va.) would like the chairmanship, but he is too conservative for some of his colleagues who would prefer Rep. Richardson Preyer (D-N.C.). A fight could develop there.
Likewise, the oversight subcommittee headed by retiring bulldog investigator John Moss (D-Calif.) will be open. A content for that spot is likely to Rep. Bob Eckhardt (D-Tex.) is the current favorite.
Finally, the defeat of Rep. Fred B. Rooney (D-Pa.) leaves the transportation subcommittee on Commerce open.
On Ways and Means, the retirement of Rep. James Burke (D-Mass.) leaves the Social Security subcommittee open. With Congress likely to reopen debate on how to finance Social Security, the vacancy is important. There is some talk of merging the subcommittee with the health subcommittee chaired by Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.). He is also chief deputy whip for the Democrats, and the Social Security responsibilities would add-to his growing power.
The other Koreagate-reprimanded House member, Rep. Charles Wison (D-Calif.), heads a Post Office subcommittee.
Common Cause wants House Democrats to set up a mechanism that would have the full Democratic caucus decide whether subcommittee chairmen who've been convicted, indicted or reprimanded should retain their posts.Many House Democrats, however, favor letting the individual committees handle that problem, as they now do, except in the case of Appropriations.
Common Clause would also like rules changes that remove convicted or indicted chairman when the conviction or indictment occurs, rather than waiting for the end of a session. Some language along those lines may be considered by the caucus.