WASHINGTON - Regardless of the outcome of the May 15 primary, some folks in Congress could soon be calling Rep. Robert A. Brady "Mr. Mayor."
The title is an informal moniker applied to the chairman of the influential Committee on House Administration, which oversees day-to-day operations of the House.
Brady has been interim chairman of the panel since the April 22 death of Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald (D., Calif.) from cancer.
All signs point to the Philadelphia Democrat's being named permanent chairman by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), according to congressional staff members who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the succession issue.
Rep. Michael E. Capuano (D., Mass.), a committee member, said it appeared Brady would be the permanent chairman.
"I haven't spoken to the speaker, but I would say the odds are good," Capuano said in a phone interview. "I think Bobby would make a great chairman."
Congressional staff members say that the delay in naming Brady is due to respect for the late congresswoman and not because of the Democratic mayoral primary in Philadelphia, where Brady is a candidate.
"Mr. Brady will be acting in the capacity of the chair of the committee," said Drew Hamill, a spokesman for Pelosi. "There's no timeline for a decision on a permanent chair."
If Brady wins the primary and is elected mayor, he would continue to serve in Congress until the end of the year and would continue to chair the panel.
Today, the Democratic caucus is expected to appoint Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama to fill the committee vacancy left by Millender-McDonald's death.
Also today, the committee is expected to have a markup, or editing session, of a bill introduced by Rep. Rush D. Holt (D., N.J.) that would change electronic voting procedures.
In addition to House operations, the committee handles election challenges and federal election laws. The panel met yesterday to discuss the disputed 2006 election in Florida's 13th District, where Democrat Christine Jennings contends that her loss to Republican Vern Buchanan was caused by electronic-voting-machine errors.
Brady has not publicly commented on his new duties.
"Congressman Brady has been carrying out all of the duties of the chair, including presiding over the full committee markup of important election-reform legislation," said Stanley V. White, Brady's chief of staff.
"During this period, he will continue to chair the Joint Committee on Printing and the Subcommittee on Capitol Security," White added.
Neither Brady nor White would speculate on whether or when the interim status might be made permanent.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, the only Democrat besides Brady who served on the committee before this session of Congress - and perhaps his only competition for the post - declined to comment.
In the last few days, Brady had to sign off on a contract for a new special assistant for Rep. James R. Langevin (D., R.I.), who is a quadriplegic. The assistant is hired on a special contract outside normal House employment, thus requiring the committee's approval.
The House Administration panel wields significant powers. Its jurisdiction over federal elections extends to proposals to amend federal election law and to monitor congressional elections.
As for House operations, the committee sets budget authorizations for committee expenses and for members of Congress and oversees the administrative and technical functions of the House.
The committee's responsibility also extends to the security of the Capitol complex, which includes a visitors' center scheduled to open next year.
House Administration also oversees management of the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institution, including the National Zoo.