By David Lawder
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senior House Republicans named Representative Kevin Brady of Texas on Wednesday as their pick to be the next chairman of the powerful, tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, succeeding Paul Ryan, who took over the House speakership last week.
In a closed-door vote, the House of Representatives Republican Steering Committee chose Brady over Representative Pat Tiberi of Ohio, a decision subject to approval by Republican rank-and-file members on Thursday morning.
Brady, 60, is a longtime member of the Ways and Means Committee and would become the seventh House committee chairman from Texas, strengthening the state's strong influence over Republican policymaking.
Brady, who represents a district north of Houston, told reporters after speaking to the steering committee that he touted his experience and leadership skills. Brady also said he would work with Ryan to push a "pro-growth" agenda, including reforms to the tax code, welfare programs and major federal benefits programs including Social Security and Medicare.
"On the Ways and Means Committee, we're going to play a big role in moving the big issues, and doing it united in conference," Brady said.
He spoke positively about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, President Barack Obama's recently agreed Asian free trade deal, which Ryan had championed and which needs congressional approval in coming months.
Brady said he would work to ensure that lawmakers understood the full details of the agreement, which are expected to be disclosed as early as this week.
"This is economic freedom. We're going to open up those markets in China's backyard based on our rules, and we're going to grow jobs in the United States," Brady said. "But first we start with making sure our members know what's in it."
Ryan had thrown his support behind Brady, influencing the vote of the steering committee, said Representative Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia.
"I'm sure that carried a lot of weight," Westmoreland told reporters. "I think seniority plays a bigger role on Ways and Means than any other committee up here."
The steering committee, made up of House Republican leadership, committee chairmen and regional representatives, also chose Representative Tom Rice of South Carolina to fill a vacancy on the Ways and Means panel.
(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Peter Cooney)