By Emelie Rutherford
House Republicans officially anointed their committee chairs for the next session yesterday, naming Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) the top House appropriator over the more-senior Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.)
The full House Republican caucus agreed yesterday with a steering committee’s decision on Tuesday to not grant waivers to lawmakers like Lewis allowing them to lead panels longer than a three-term limit spelled out in House GOP rules.
Thus, Lewis, the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee (HAC) in the currently Democrat-controlled House, will be succeeded by Rogers as the HAC chairman when Republicans take control of the chamber in January.
Rogers has considered making William Inglee, a Lockheed Martin [LMT] vice president who lobbied Congress in recent years, the HAC’s staff director, according to Politico.
Congressional aides said it’s unclear when the House Republican Steering Committee will decide who will chair the HAC subcommittees. Yet observers said the decision by most House Republicans, with the House Speaker-designate John Boehner (R-Ohio) at their lead, to not grant term-limit waivers puts Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young (R-Fla.) in a tricky spot. Young, the ranking member of the HAC Defense subcommittee (HAC-D), wants a waiver to serve as the panel’s chairman and is said to have only run for reelection with the understanding that he would have the gavel. He told the St. Petersburg Times after the Nov. 2 elections that Boehner “indicated to me he thought I would be the right person to chair that defense committee because that’s what I’ve done.”
Lewis and Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) are said to be interested in the HAC-D chairmanship as well.
Rogers is currently the ranking member of the HAC’s Homeland Security subcommittee, and a member of the HAC-D.
He is known as a prolific earmarker, sponsoring 59 such directly-funded items in spending bills worth more than $93 million, according to watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense. Still, House Republicans have vowed to no longer include earmarks in spending bills. Some members of the anti-large-government Tea Party movement had supported Kingston for the HAC chairmanship.
“The nation is in a fiscal crisis, and hard decisions are coming,” Rogers said in a statement. “I look forward to working with Leadership and my Republican colleagues in fighting for serious reforms of the Committee, bringing fiscal sanity back to our budgeting process, performing vigorous oversight of the failed job-creation policies of the Obama Administration and moving our nation forward.”
As expected, House Republicans yesterday tapped Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), to chair the panel next year.
McKeon has pushed back on calls to cut the Pentagon’s budget. In a Nov. 15 speech, he said “cutting defense spending amidst two wars is a red line for me and should be a red line for all Americans” (Defense Daily, Nov. 16).
McKeon did not mention potential budget cuts in a statement issued yesterday. He did, though, say his priorities include investing “in the capabilities and force structure needed to protect the United States from tomorrow’s threats, while mandating fiscal responsibility, accountability and transparency from the Department of Defense.”
McKeon’s district includes Fort Irwin, Edwards AFB, Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, the Marine Mountain Warfare Training Center, the Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, the Air Force’s Research Laboratory Propulsion Directorate, and Air Force Plant 42.
The House Republican caucus yesterday also elected Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) to serve as chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
King, the ranking member on the panel, and said in a statement yesterday his priorities will include passing a comprehensive Department of Homeland Security authorization bill and bolstering “national cybersecurity by fortifying the defenses of federal networks and promoting partnerships with the private sector to protect against cyberattack.”
Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas) will be the next chairman of the NASA-overseeing House Science and Technology Committee, on which he is now the ranking member.