Boehner tells Rep. Tom Cole: Your turn next

Minority Leader John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFrom learning on his feet to policy director Is Congress retrievable? Boehner reveals portrait done by George W. Bush MORE (R-Ohio) has assured Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) that he will support the House campaign chairman’s bid for a seat on the Appropriations Committee next year.

In a Thursday evening statement issued after Rep. Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) was selected to replace ex-Rep. Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerHillicon Valley: Zuckerberg defends handling of misinformation in political ads | Biden camp hits Zuckerberg over remarks | Dem bill would jail tech execs for lying about privacy | Consumer safety agency accidentally disclosed personal data Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Pence says Turkey agrees to ceasefire | Senators vow to move forward with Turkey sanctions | Mulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe On The Money: Senate fails to override Trump veto over border emergency | Trump resort to host G-7 next year | Senators to push Turkey sanctions despite ceasefire | McConnell tees up funding votes MORE (R-Miss.) on the spending panel, Cole said he withdrew his name “shortly before the [House Republican] Steering Committee meeting.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“I consider myself a team player,” Cole said. “The minority leader asked me to step aside while I focus on my duties as a member of Republican leadership. I believe this was the best decision at the appropriate time for the entire conference.”

Cole and BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFrom learning on his feet to policy director Is Congress retrievable? Boehner reveals portrait done by George W. Bush MORE clashed last year as Boehner pressed for staff changes at the cash-strapped National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). Cole balked and no staff changes were made.

In an interview with The Hill last month, Cole praised Boehner but stressed that as NRCC chairman, he makes the final calls at the campaign committee.

Cole’s bid for the appropriations seat was a sensitive topic. GOP members and aides privately criticized his decision, noting that he was running against two politically vulnerable members.

Cole refused to talk publicly about his effort to replace Wicker, telling The Hill in January: “I don’t have anything to say about that.”

 Yet Boehner and Cole were able to strike a deal.

“Tom Cole has once again demonstrated he’s willing to let his own interests take a back seat to those of his Republican colleagues when it will help our team,” Boehner said in Cole’s release. “This quality of selflessness is the mark of a true leader. I’m grateful for Tom’s willingness to make sacrifices for our conference.  I’m proud and honored to serve with him, and I’ve pledged to support him for an appropriations seat next January, when I expect we will mark the first month of a new Republican majority in the House.”

“The minority leader’s commitment to support my bid for a seat on the Appropriations Committee in the 111th Congress made this an easy decision,” Cole said.

Seven GOP spots are expected to open next year on the appropriations panel, though that number could change depending on the 2008 election results.

Following Cole’s withdrawal, GOP leaders faced a choice of six House lawmakers to replace Wicker, including Rep. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeVulnerable senators hold the key to Trump's fate Trump's GOP impeachment firewall holds strong How to survive an impeachment MORE (R-Ariz.), who was backed by the anti-earmark community and conservative blogs.

Bonner’s section is somewhat of a safe move by House leaders, given his membership in the conservative Republican Study Committee and that he is filling a seat vacated by a fellow Southerner.

He has endorsed a plan introduced by Republican appropriators Reps. Frank WolfFrank Rudolph WolfAfrica's gathering storm DOJ opinion will help protect kids from dangers of online gambling Vulnerable Republican keeps focus as Democrats highlight Trump MORE (Va.), Jack Kingston (Ga.) and Zach Wamp (Tenn.) that would establish an earmark moratorium as a bipartisan, bicameral panel reviews the use of earmarks.

Bonner has a 55 percent lifetime rating from the Citizens Against Government Waste.

However, one anti-earmark group immediately expressed disappointment with the selection.

“The Steering Committee had the opportunity to put a true reformer on the Appropriations Committee in Congressman Jeff Flake, but instead chose to elevate somebody who only supported anti-earmark amendments 2 percent of the time last year,” said Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity. “Congressman Bonner’s 2-percent record on anti-pork amendments is literally the same as unabashedly liberal members….”

Phillips added, “The projects he specifically refused to kill funding for last year include the Charles Rangel Center for Public Service ($200,000), a fake prison in Kansas ($100,000), the American Ballet Theater in New York City ($150,000), and the ‘Perfect Christmas Tree’ project in North Carolina.”

Bonner vowed to pursue earmark reform in a statement: “By entrusting me with this position, the Steering Committee has charged me with helping to reform the earmark process and restoring fiscal credibility to Washington.  I won’t let them down.”

Reps. Dave ReichertDavid (Dave) George ReichertLymphedema Treatment Act would provide a commonsense solution to a fixable problem Yoder, Messer land on K Street Ex-GOP lawmaker from Washington joins lobbying firm MORE (Wash.), Henry Brown Jr. (S.C.), Marilyn Musgrave (Colo.) and Michael Turner (Ohio) declared their intentions to run for this Appropriations Committee slot earlier this year. Democrats are targeting Reichert’s and Musgrave’s seats this cycle.

Reichert’s office argued last week that the Washington Republican was the most vulnerable of the candidates for the panel and the appointment could help him save his seat.

Musgrave congratulated Bonner Thursday in a statement.

“I appreciate the consideration of leadership for this important post.  It is vital that Republicans return to our core values of limited government, fiscal responsibility and ethical transparency,” Musgrave said.

Bonner serves on the Agriculture, Budget, Science and Technology panels, as well as the House Committee on Standards and Official Conduct.