DeLauro enters race to succeed Lowey as Appropriations chief

DeLauro enters race to succeed Lowey as Appropriations chief
© Greg Nash

The jockeying to replace Rep. Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyOn The Money: Trump appeals to Supreme Court to keep tax returns from NY prosecutors | Pelosi says deal on new NAFTA 'imminent' | Mnuchin downplays shutdown threat | Trump hits Fed after Walmart boasts strong earnings Lawmakers aim for agreement on top-line spending by next week White House prepared to support December CR MORE (D-N.Y.) atop the House Appropriations Committee has already begun. 

Lowey, the first woman to chair the powerful panel in the nation’s history, stunned Washington on Thursday in announcing that she’ll retire at the end of this Congress, after just one term with the gavel. 

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Rep. Marcy KapturMarcia (Marcy) Carolyn KapturThe National World War II Memorial is a grateful remembrance — don't let it fall apart A better way to reduce student loan debt GOP lawmakers express concerns about Giuliani's work in Ukraine MORE (D-Ohio), the longest-serving female House member in the nation’s history, is next in line and almost certainly eyeing the post. But Rep. Rosa DeLauroRosa Luisa DeLauroOvernight Health Care: Cigarette smoking rates at new low | Spread of vaping illness slowing | Dems in Congress push to block Trump abortion rule On The Money: Senate passes first spending package as shutdown looms | Treasury moves to roll back Obama rules on offshore tax deals | Trade deal talks manage to weather Trump impeachment storm Trade deal talks manage to weather Trump impeachment storm MORE (D-Conn.), another senior member of the panel and a close ally of Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiLouisiana governor wins re-election Dynamic scoring: Forward-thinking budgeting practices to grow our economy Pelosi: Trump tweets on Yovanovitch show his 'insecurity as an imposter' MORE (D-Calif.), quickly threw her name in the ring just hours after Lowey’s announcement. 

“Nita’s legacy will be lasting on the Congress — and she is not done yet. I look forward to working with her through the end of her term, and I will be running for Chair of the Appropriations Committee in the next Congress,” DeLauro, currently the fifth-ranking Democrat on the panel, said in a statement. 

The challenge sets the stage for a fierce fight next year for control of one of the most powerful committees on Capitol Hill. And others are signaling they may enter the running, as well. 

Rep. David PriceDavid Eugene PriceNorth Carolina ruling could cost GOP House seats Trump officials say aid to Puerto Rico was knowingly stalled after Hurricane Maria DeLauro enters race to succeed Lowey as Appropriations chief MORE (D-N.C.), the sixth-ranking Democrat on the panel, did not rule it out on Thursday.

“When the time comes, I look forward to talking with colleagues about Appropriations Committee leadership, both of the full committee and of key subcommittees, as we fill major gaps that Chairwoman Nita Lowey’s retirement will leave,” Price said in a statement to The Hill.

Other senior Democrats on the committee, including Reps. Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.) and Lucille Roybal-AllardLucille Roybal-AllardHispanic Caucus dedicates Day of the Dead altar to migrants who died in US custody Trump faces serious crunch in search for new Homeland Security leader Synagogues ramp up security in year since Tree of Life shooting MORE (D-Calif.), are already saying they have no interest in Lowey’s seat. Roybal-Allard's office said the congresswoman is endorsing DeLauro to be the next chair.

Visclosky, who is next in line in seniority behind Kaptur, said he has “no intention” of running to be chairman of the full committee. He controls the gavel of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, which controls hundreds of billions of dollars for Pentagon programs.

Whether more lawmakers will jump into the contest is unclear. As of Thursday afternoon, a number of other top committee Democrats — including Reps. Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeCongress should lift the ban on medical cannabis access for military veterans House Democrats launch process to replace Cummings on Oversight panel Democratic lawmakers, 2020 candidates pay tribute to Conyers MORE (Calif.), Debbie Wasserman SchultzDeborah (Debbie) Wasserman SchultzOvernight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Dem rep defends calling Ken Cuccinelli a white supremacist Both sides claim win in White House official's impeachment testimony MORE (Fla.) and Betty McCollumBetty Louise McCollumMinnesota lieutenant governor, Native Americans to protest Washington Redskins 'racist' name DeLauro enters race to succeed Lowey as Appropriations chief Trump impeachment calls snowball, putting pressure on Pelosi MORE (Minn.) — had not weighed in.

Kaptur issued a statement Thursday evening stressing the importance of wrapping up the committee's near-term work while Lowey is still at the helm. But when the time comes, she said she'll seek the gavel.

"Though it is far too early for the Democratic Caucus to begin considering successors to that position, I am interested in placing my name for consideration as the committee member with the most experience and seniority when the time is appropriate," she said.

Kaptur, who was first elected in 1982, is no stranger to challenges to her ascension on the Appropriations Committee. Although Democrats typically adhere to a seniority system when deciding committee heads, Lowey defeated the more senior Kaptur to win the ranking member position on the panel in 2012, following the retirement of former Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.).

Kaptur, at the time, chalked up the loss to the lopsided power dynamics in the Democratic Caucus between the heavily represented coasts and the lesser represented heartland. That regional disparity was a major factor in Pelosi’s leadership shakeup following the 2016 cycle, and Democrats since then have sought to iron out the regional disparities in their ranks.

How those dynamics might influence a Kaptur-DeLauro race remain to be seen. Several Democratic lawmakers and top aides said DeLauro would be a strong contender, if not the front-runner, to replace Lowey.

DeLauro also has a built-in advantage in the race: She leads the Democratic Steering Committee, the very panel which recommends to the full caucus which lawmakers should receive committee gavels.

“DeLauro would have an upper hand, despite seniority,” said one House Democratic lawmaker watching the evolving race.

“I think she’s the front-runner,” added a top aide to a Democratic appropriator.

—Updated at 5:58 p.m.