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Issa Creeps Closer In Oversight Bid

California Rep. Darrell Issa earned the support of two senior Republicans on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee in his bid to secure the top GOP spot on that panel.

Indiana Rep. Dan Burton, a former chairman of the committee, and Florida Rep. John L. Mica, the ranking Republican on the transportation panel, sent colleagues a letter on Wednesday praising Issa for his preparation and aggressiveness, both in the majority and minority.

"He has never shied away from issues nor from standing up for the positions and ideals of our Conference, which have come under attack by Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and the Democratic leadership," Burton and Mica wrote in a note to colleagues.

Issa, who upped his fundraising for the party over the past two years, has been reaching out to members of the oversight panel, as well as prospective members of the next Republican Steering Committee, in his bid to leapfrog more senior colleagues.

That task is easier because many of those senior members either have a ranking post, like Mica, or want other assignments, like New York Rep. John McHugh, who has the inside track to replace retiring California Rep. Duncan Hunter on Armed Services. And his top competition for the post, Connecticut Rep. Christopher Shays, lost his reelection bid last week after 21 years in the House.

Issa is hoping to replace retiring Virginia Rep. Tom Davis, who could work with Waxman at times. The conservative Issa is far more partisan and provocative in his rhetoric than the more moderate Davis ever was.

Most observers believe the Democratically-led committee will take a hands-off approach to the incoming Obama administration, at least early on, focusing their oversight instead on the finance industry and others responsible for the credit crisis. Issa has a background in the business community, making him an obvious advocate for some of the companies that Democrats could rake over the coals in the next Congress.

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