Republicans vying for the chairmanship of the House Appropriations Committee will pitch their creds to the GOP steering committee on Tuesday. Of the three hoping to walk away with the Chairmanship, all are thorny choices, all are “porkers,” posing a real problem for Republican leadership.
U.S. House Appropriations Committee
Note the quote above. Article I, Section 9, Clause 7 may be one of the most maligned and abused provisions of our law.
The three contenders are:
1) Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA-41st) with $97 million in earmarks:
…pitching himself as “battle-ready” and tested, but given his long record as a pork-barrel spender his selection could enrage tea party-backed freshmen. They might be more likely to support Kingston.
2) Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) with $93 million in earmarks:
…a long track record of bringing home the bacon and he therefore has similar liabilities and strengths as Lewis. But the Kentucky Republican helped himself by announcing his support for the GOP earmark ban. In letters to colleagues he has pledged to open up the appropriations process to the wider membership.
3) Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA-1st) with $66 million in earmarks:
…marking himself as the outsider candidate since he sponsored anti-earmark legislation in 2007, though his record is not earmark-free. Taxpayers for Common Sense says Kingston obtained $66 million in earmarks in fiscal 2010
It’s my opinion that what matters now, is which of these candidates to be placed into this very powerful position, the leadership believes will follow the austerity programs laid-out by the GOP (assuming that they will be laid-out).
According to what I’m reading at The Hill, Lewis may have the upper hand, as a deft fundraiser for the party in the past, and a previous battle with Hal Rogers for a chairmanship challenge, in which Lewis prevailed.:
To win over hardcore budget cutters, Lewis sent a letter to President Obama last week vowing to sponsor legislation rescinding unspent stimulus money.
Thomas Schatz of Citizens Against Government Waste agreed Lewis has his personal relationships on his side, but the fact the freshman class is historically large, about one-third of the total conference, will work in Kingston’s favor.
Lewis is the Committee’s ranking Republican, Rogers third ranking and Kingston ranking fifth.
But there’s more: the GOP has a six-year term limit on holding a senior membership position, which Lewis will violate if granted the chairmanship. Apparently the rule can be waived. Without the waiver, Lewis is eliminated.
Rep. Kingston has some solid backing from Conservatives “off” Capitol Hill but waited until November 19th before announcing his candidacy, pending a decision on a waiver, or lack of one for Lewis. Aides say Kingston is running to keep Rogers from the position.
Here’s a morsel: Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ-6th) has long-aspired to sit on the Appropriations Committee, but he has also been a long-time critic of Jerry Lewis’ earmarks. Now, Lewis is endorsing Flake for a seat on the Committee. If you can’t beat your enemies, keep them close while you try to clean up your act (or not).
So yes, this is a thorny one for the GOP to start off the 112th Congress. I say they should stick to their rules, which were made for some reason. Eliminate Rep. Lewis and make your decision. See the complete list of Republican and Democrat Minority members here.