By Ben Geman - 11/13/13 11:23 AM EST
The House subcommittees that craft spending bills for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Interior and Energy Departments have undergone a changing of the guard.
Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) will head the Energy and Water Development subcommittee, which oversees the Energy Department, now that Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) will lead the Defense Appropriations subcommittee.
Simpson previously led the Interior and Environment Appropriations subcommittee, which oversees spending at EPA and much of the Interior Department, including its energy programs.
Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) will move into Simpson’s old role.
Republicans have sought to use the Interior and Environment spending panel to thwart several Obama administration policies, such as EPA’s climate change regulations. But the measures haven’t advanced in the Senate.
More broadly, the influence of the congressional spending subcommittees has waned in recent years.
Budget policy gridlock has brought a series of stopgap spending bills, while sequestration and a ban on earmarks has also stripped discretion from the Appropriations Committee.
But a hoped-for budget deal could end the crisis-to-crisis fiscal policymaking trend and put more power in the hands of the committees that traditionally have made spending decisions.
And Simpson said the position gives him a chance to work on several important topics.
“The Idaho delegation has a strong history of involvement in federal issues related to energy development and water infrastructure, and in particular nuclear energy. This new assignment gives me the opportunity to expand our involvement in these issues and make sure the concerns of our state and region are heard and addressed,” he said in a statement.
Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman of the full Appropriations Committee, said his new subcommittee leaders are a good fit. “There are very few who know more about the nation’s energy and water needs than Mike Simpson,” Rogers said in a statement.
Turning to Calvert, Rogers said, “Leading the subcommittee in charge of funding everything from our National Parks to the Environmental Protection Agency is an extremely difficult job.”
“Ken is not only up to the task, but will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience that will be an excellent asset to the committee and to the country as we tackle many fiscal challenges in the future,” he said.