Rep. Gregg Harper (R) makes Politico Top 50 politicos to watch

Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.)

Rep. Gregg Harper’s freshman term in Congress has been marked by a series of firsts. He was the House’s only freshman elected to the Republican Steering Committee, the powerful panel that sets the House GOP’s policy. He also is one of two freshmen serving on the National Republican Congressional Committee’s executive panel. And within a few months of taking Mississippi’s 3rd District seat, he found himself on the Administration Committee and the Standards of Official Conduct Committee, the unpopular, onerous panels that police lawmakers’ work in Congress. He also serves on the Judiciary and Budget committees.

“The first thing that somebody said to me after [House Minority Leader] John Boehner appointed me to ethics was, ‘Is he mad at you for something?’” Harper said.

But, in fact, Harper’s committee placements illustrate just how much GOP leadership considers him an up-and-coming player: To help his party, he’s willing to take on thankless work that benefits few back home. Lawmakers such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer labored long on those committees and eventually ascended to key leadership posts.