House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling’s announcement last month that Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) would join the panel as committee whip has confused some committee members.
Though Hensarling did not specify the role of the committee whip, Westmoreland said that his new role will involve “communicating more with subcommittee people,” adding that he expects to serve as a “liaison” between members, Politico reports.
Some committee members, however, were not even aware that the post was created, and many did not understand why Hensarling announced a post that did not exist under former chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.).
“The committee whip?” Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), a committee member, said, according to Politico. “I didn’t even know we had that…I don’t know. I assume it’s just to give [Westmoreland] extra status. Nobody offered it to me.”
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), another committee member, was equally surprised by the announcement.
“What do you mean, the whip position?” Maloney said, Politico reports. “That’s interesting that they created a whip position. I didn’t know that.”
Hensarling’s announcement also prompted a joke from committee member Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), who is an ordained minister.
“Now that I know that [Hensarling]’s expanding [the committee], I’m going to see if he’ll appoint me as…chaplain for the Financial Services Committee,” Cleaver said, according to Politico.
Elected to Congress in 2004, Westmoreland is considered to have close ties to GOP leaders. An aide to Hensarling said that the whip will serve as “senior adviser” to the chairman regarding committee matters, adding that Westmoreland will help ensure that the concerns of committee members are addressed before legislation is slated to move forward.
The HFSC whip position is not the only post created by Hensarling this year. Earlier this month, Hensarling bestowed on Bachus, his predecessor, the title of chairman emeritus in tribute to Bachus’ six years as the committee’s lead Republican. The status will allow Bachus to continue his participation on the panel as a senior member.