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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 LoweyTop House Democrats call for watchdog probe into Pompeo's Jerusalem speech With Biden, advocates sense momentum for lifting abortion funding ban Progressives look to flex their muscle in next Congress after primary wins 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 KapturUkraine language in GOP platform underscores Trump tensions Eye on gavel, Wasserman Schultz proposes panel on racial inequality in spending Overnight Defense: Army now willing to rename bases named after Confederates | Dems demand answers on 'unfathomable' nuke testing discussions | Pentagon confirms death of north African al Qaeda leader 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 DeLauroCentury of the Woman: The Fight for Equal Pay Female lawmakers, officials call for more women at all levels of government to improve equity Overnight Health Care: CDC pulls revised guidance on coronavirus | Government watchdog finds supply shortages are harming US response | As virus pummels US, Europe sees its own spike MORE (D-Conn.), another senior member of the panel and a close ally of Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: McConnell says he would give Trump-backed coronavirus deal a Senate vote | Pelosi, Mnuchin see progress, but no breakthrough | Trump, House lawyers return to court in fight over financial records Progress, but no breakthrough, on coronavirus relief McConnell says he would give Trump-backed coronavirus deal a vote in Senate 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 PriceHouse panel approves measure requiring masks on public transport Overnight Energy: 350 facilities skip reporting water pollution | Panel votes to block Trump's 'secret science' rule | Court upholds regulation boosting electric grid storage Committee votes to block Trump's 'secret science' EPA rule 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 asks for Department of Labor meeting on COVID in meatpacking plants Democrats may bring DHS bill to House floor Texas Democrat proposes legislation requiring masks in federal facilities 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 LeeOcasio-Cortez, progressives call on Senate not to confirm lobbyists or executives to future administration posts Democrats accuse tech companies of deceitful tactics in campaign against Calif. ballot measure Congress fiddles while the US burns, floods, and ails MORE (Calif.), Debbie Wasserman SchultzDeborah (Debbie) Wasserman SchultzFlorida Democrat introduces bill to recognize Puerto Rico statehood referendum Five things to watch at the Democratic National Convention Michelle Obama wishes Barack a happy birthday: 'My favorite guy' MORE (Fla.) and Betty McCollumBetty Louise McCollumOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump extends Florida offshore drilling pause, expands it to Georgia, South Carolina | Democrats probe Park Service involvement in GOP convention | Sanders attacks 'corporate welfare' to coal industry included in relief package Democrats probe Park Service involvement in GOP convention Overnight Energy: EPA chief outlines vision for agency under 'Trump's second term' | Agency sued over decision not to regulate chemical linked to fetal brain damage 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.