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There's nothing like starting at the top.

Rep.-elect Tom Reynolds, R-Springville, got the first pick among office quarters among incoming freshmen on Monday. More importantly, the Republican leadership asked Reynolds to serve on the powerful House Rules Committee.

Rep. Bob Livingston, R-La., House speaker-elect, said, "Tom Reynolds' experience as a member and leader of the New York State Assembly make him an ideal choice for this assignment."

Reynolds also got his first national political exposure.

CNN's Monday edition of "Inside Politics" featured Reynolds winning the lottery for the choice of Capitol Hill offices and showing friends around his new suite.

He chose Room 413, in the ornate Cannon building close to the offices of Rep. Jack Quinn, R-Hamburg, and other New York Republicans.

If Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-Fairport, continues on the rules panel, Reynolds' assignment will provide Western New York with two slots on committee, which is the clearinghouse for all legislation headed for the House floor.

The committee decides on what bills will be debated, and voted on on the House floor, and when. The panel also decides on the nature of some legislation.

For example, if the impeachment issue is still a live one when the new Congress takes office Jan. 3, the Rules Committee will play a large role in whether or not the House gets to vote on a penalty less severe than impeachment.

Reynolds said in a statement that Livingston had personally asked him to serve on the panel. He said he is "deeply honored" by Livingston's confidence. He said he is the only member of the Republican freshman class to be given an appointment to one of the "big four" committees, the others being Ways and Means, Appropriations, and Commerce.

Earlier this month, Reynolds said he wanted appointment to the House Commerce Committee. The man he is replacing, Rep. William E. Paxon, R-Amherst, who is retiring, served on commerce.

Reynolds had been Republican minority leader, a post he relinquished when he announced his candidacy for the House.

Even before his election to the House, Reynolds was known to a number of Republican leaders as a key adviser in Washington to Paxon when Paxon headed the National Republican Congressional Committee and led the GOP in 1994 to its first House Republican takeover in 40 years.

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