By Erik Wasson
House spending panel shuffles members
The powerful House Appropriations Committee announced Wednesday that it has re-allocated membership in its subcommittees, bringing new faces and new priorities to crucial panels such as the one overseeing defense spending.
Membership on the Appropriations subcommittees is more important this year given the likelihood that Congress will for the first time since 1994 pass all 12 individual spending bills by the start of fiscal 2015 on Oct. 1.
“Our members each have priorities and concerns that are unique to them and their districts, but we are united behind the common goal of protecting the prosperity of our nation, providing the federal government with responsible levels of discretionary funding, and doing so under regular order,” Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said in a statement.
New to the Defense panel are Reps. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) and John Carter (R-Texas). They will fill the slots formerly held by Rep. Jo Bonner (R-Ala.), who retired from Congress last year, and former Chairman Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.), who passed away.
In other shifts, long-time Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) joins the Transportation and Housing subcommittee and Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) joins the State and Foreign Operations panel.
Reps. Tom Graves (R-Ga.) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) will shift to the Energy and Water panel, which oversees massive infrastructure spending.
There are three new members of the Appropriations panel this year, and they learned of their assignments late Tuesday.
Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) was assigned to the Interior and Environment subcommittee, the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies panel and the Legislative Branch panel.
“My experience ... has been dealing with the EPA, ozone regulations, Clean Air, and Clean Water Act,” Stewart said in an interview.
He noted that he ran a business for 12 years that dealt with Environmental Protection Agency permitting and is keen on dealing with energy issues.
Stewart, a former Air Force pilot, said he wants to serve on Defense one day, but realizes a spot there generally goes to more senior members.
Stewart said he is “optimistic” the Appropriations Committee can complete all 12 bills.
“I don’t want to sound naïve and I understand that the precedent of these last years may wall up against us. I think that things are genuinely different now, with all that we have gone through in that last few months, including the shutdown,” he said.
Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.) will serve on the Veteran’s Affairs panel, the panel overseeing labor, health and education spending and the Legislative Branch panel.
Roby said in an interview that she has “one of the highest veterans populations in the country” in her district, making veterans a top priority for her.
In her time on the Education and Workforce Committee, Roby has worked to try to enact a bill giving workers paid time off or comp time in lieu of overtime pay, so work on the Labor/HHS subcommittee is a fit.
Roby said she is excited to work to put the 12 spending bills into law this year.
“None of the new members since 2010 have seen regular order,” she noted. “I’m hopeful.”
Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.) will serve on the Commerce, Justice, Science panel as well as the Financial Services panel and the Legislative Branch.
The Legislative Branch panel has the smallest slice of the $1 trillion budget and is often given to new appropriators.