After people noticed that all the House committee chairs were chairmen, John Boehner announced the appointment of Candice Miller to head the House Committee on Administration. Miller is a white woman which does nothing for racial or ethnic diversity, but does give them a token woman in a leadership position.
It’s a consolation prize of sorts for Miller, who lost to Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas) in a three-way race for the Homeland Security chairmanship. In that race, Miller told POLITICO she was making the pitch that she was “tough enough” to chair the panel charged with overseeing the nation’s vast homeland security infrastructure.
According to the Committee website, the committee is responsible for a mix of duties ranging from housekeeping (overseeing the dining room) and important (overseeing elections).
Now in its 60th year of existence, CHA’s two principal functions include oversight of federal elections and day-to-day operations in the House.
CHA also exerts great influence on the internal procedures and priorities of the daily operations of the institution. In its first three decades, the committee’s influence grew as it attained the power to fix the level of allowances available to Members, to oversee House officers, to implement new services for Member offices, and to set human resources and management policies for staff and service personnel on the House side of Capitol Hill. CHA has a hand in a number of house-keeping duties outlined in House Rule X. These responsibilities range from disbursing appropriations for committee staff and member staff salaries to handling parking assignments, restaurant services, and the issuance of identification badges. The committee also administers travel allowances for Members, assigns office space, and compiles and publishes information related to campaign financial disclosures. CHA must approve the acceptance or purchase of works of art for the Capitol. Additionally, the committee has oversight of the Library of Congress, the House Library, the Botanic Gardens, and the Smithsonian Institution.
In more recent years the committee has focused on technology updates. Since 1971, with the introduction of House Information Systems, later named House Information Resources (HIR), the committee has introduced technological innovation to the institution. HIR became the primary computer support service for Members and committees. In the 1990s, CHA facilitated development of the House e-mail system and the availability of Internet access, and authorized software and networking upgrades to provide better electronic links between Members’ Washington, D.C., offices and their district offices. In the late 1990s, CHA took a lead role in developing THOMAS, a Library of Congress Web site that provides public access to the Congressional Record, committee reports, roll call votes, and information of the status of bills pending before Congress. The committee also was a moving force in developing a House Intranet system, as well as a reliable cellular phone and text-messaging network for Members and staff.
So while the work of the CHA is not necessarily trivial, it is strange that the only woman to chair a House Committee is in a job that bears more than a passing resemblance to what men would call “women’s work.” Of course, every woman knows that without someone to take on the management of a household, things do not always run smoothly.
Good managing, Representative Miller.