Lowey selection a win for Pelosi

House Democratic leaders have chosen Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) over Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) for the position of ranking member on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, in a victory for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who championed Lowey.

Kaptur had seniority on the panel, but her past independence from leadership and stance on abortion rights were seen as factors in the race.

Lowey, who was favored to win, is slated to replace retiring Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), who served one term as ranking member, in January.

The vote was 36-10, sources said.

"Either one of them would have done an excellent job," Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said.

Lowey said after the vote that the selection is the pinnacle of her long career in Congress.

“I’m the first woman and I am very excited to get to work,” she said.

Lowey will stay on as the ranking member of the subcommittee that oversees the State Department’s funding, she said.

She said there would be no lingering hard feelings with Kaptur.

“Marcy and I have been friends for years,” she said.



Reps. Marcy Kaptur (left) and Nita Lowey wait outside the Steering Committee. (Erik Wasson)
Prior to a Steering Committee vote, Kaptur and Lowey agreed to abide by its decision no matter the result. Kaptur's office had earlier threatened to throw the race to the whole caucus.

"We have a gentleladies' agreement," Kaptur told reporters.

Still, while the women are on friendly terms, the race was hard-fought.

During the race for ranking member, Lowey’s camp argued she is more reliable in preventing anti-abortion legislation from being inserted into appropriations bills. Kaptur’s camp countered that she has opposed riders defunding Planned Parenthood.

According to NARAL, Lowey has a 100 percent ranking on abortion-related issues, while Kaptur is “mixed-choice” at 70 percent.

Kaptur's folks argued that their candidate is a better speaker, noted she is younger and argued she has spent years cultivating relationships with Republicans, like committee Chairman Hal Rogers (Ky.).

Lowey is leading a fight in the lame duck for a massive Hurricane Sandy disaster aid bill.

“I hope that we can appropriate as close to the requested number as we can,” she said. New York and New Jersey are seeking $80 billion.

She said her top priorities next year will be growing the economy and fending off the Tea Party.

“We have to create jobs; we have to get the economy moving, so that means investments in education,” she said. “We have to make sure items like Pell Grants are funded … we have to look at our aging infrastructure.”

Lowey said that she hopes Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) will sideline the Tea Party’s desire for deep spending cuts.

“There are many issues that the Tea Party and others who support their priorities will continue to advocate for,” she said. 

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The Appropriations panel is one of the most bipartisan in Congress, making the ranking-member slot unusually powerful.

The New York congresswoman announced her bid for the post in March, when Dicks declared he was retiring.

Lowey went full-force for the job while Kaptur was forced into a tough primary battle with Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) this year.

On the Pelosi front, Kaptur did run against Pelosi to be minority leader in 2002, and against Pelosi favorite Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) for conference vice chairman in 2008.

In 2010, Kaptur was quoted as questioning whether Pelosi’s term as party leader should be extended in light of the trouncing the Democrats took at the polls.

— This article was originally published at 4:19 p.m. and last updated at 5 p.m.