Republicans Avoiding Appropriations Committee To Change Politics? Or Is It Politics As Usual?

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Politics as usual? Is this a case of newly elected Republicans doing their part to stop the earmarks and bring down the deficit, or instead is it a case of ducking and hiding to save their future hides?

A band of conservative rebels has taken over the House, vowing to slash spending, cut the deficit and kill earmarks.

And of course they’d love a seat on the powerhouse Appropriations Committee so they can translate their campaign zeal into action, right?

Not really.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) was asked to be an appropriator and said thanks, but no thanks. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), a tea party favorite, turned down a shot at Appropriations, which controls all discretionary spending. So did conservatives like Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), an ambitious newcomer who will lead the influential Republican Study Committee.

Indeed, the Appropriations Committee just doesn’t seem to be the plum assignment it once was, and the line is short for new recruits to join a panel where the longtime focus on bringing home earmarks and other goodies will shift to finding $100 billion in spending cuts. Even conservative reformers who do get assigned to the committee are likely to be stymied once their appropriations bills reach the floor and get amended to death, then potentially earmarked into oblivion by a Democratic Senate.

I understand that it’s fruitless if their bills get amended and earmarked once it reaches the floor but why not do what Rep. Jeff Flake from Arizona wants to do if he gets the job?

Flake said Wednesday he expects House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) to take his request seriously. Flake failed to make the committee in 2008, before the Republican ban on earmarks, and even got booted from a prime spot on the Judiciary Committee in 2007, as punishment for taking to the floor to bash Republican earmarks.

“I know there was a lot of resistance before from the old appropriators, to having me on the committee,” he told POLITICO. “It’s a different environment now.”


He also expects less competition for a spot, as members who would have wanted to be on the committee in the past to bring money back to their districts are turning their attention to other committees.

Why are some of the newly elected running away from the committee? Steven Spruiell:

In the March 6, 1995 issue of National Review, some guy named Rich Lowry wrote a great piece about the difficulty of shaking up the Appropriations Committee, even in a year when Republicans were feeling quite revolutionary indeed. “Junior committee members,” he wrote, played a crucial role:

Freshman Mark Neumann (R., Wis.), in a piece of almost suicidal chutzpa, bucked his chairman on the Defense Subcommittee on his first vote, opposing a supplemental defense bill that was not yet paid for with cuts elsewhere. “Fortunately, I didn’t know at the time it was a courageous vote,” Neumann says. “I just did what I thought was right.”

So does this mean Republicans like Bachmann, King, Westmoreland and Jordan just don’t want to get down & dirty. If they were really intent on reform they would be jumping at the opportunity to at least TRY and enact reform from an influential committee right? Maybe I’m reading this wrong and there are committees from which they can do more good and this is changing politics as usual as Ed Morrissey notes:

Republicans want to distance themselves from the compromises and sleazy deals that have become the hallmark of Appropriations


If Appropriations has stopped being a draw for those seeking power and an assignment that only reformers want and others take reluctantly, then perhaps this past election has changed a few minds in Washington about business as usual.

Sounds good. But aren’t the Republicans named above “reformers?”

I can tell you one thing, if Republicans think that conservatives will just go along and not hold the newly elected accountable they are sadly mistaken. We will not just toe the party line. We just got rid of a bunch of big government Democrats and you guys were elected to do a job so you damn well better at least TRY to do that job.


A good comment at FR that I wanted to share:

There are several ins and outs here.

To start with, Appropriations is seen as such an important committee, that if you have a seat on it, that is the only committee assignment you can have. A lot of these enthusiastic freshmen want to impact on a half dozen or more committees, so they can try to dismantle some of the most abusive federal practices.

Appropriations is also “skilled work”, in that unless you have a lot of experience and a practiced staff, pouring over a budget bill as tall as you are is a daunting task. Now imagine pouring over a dozen such bills.

The one big advantage, and it is a big one, is really up to the chairman of the committee. This is to *reorganize* the budget bills, to “separate the wheat from the chaff”, and put the wheat in one bill and the chaff in another bill, which can die for all you care.

Bottom line: These people are busting their humps, and it is not going to stop for a long time. They are strategizing like chess players, learning truly arcane parliamentary procedures and the rules of the House, and jockeying for position all over the place.

We need to cut them some slack, and just hope that they can pull it off.

Curt served in the Marine Corps for four years and has been a law enforcement officer in Los Angeles for the last 24 years.

7 Responses to “Republicans Avoiding Appropriations Committee To Change Politics? Or Is It Politics As Usual?”

  1. 1

    Thoughtful comment. I wasn’t aware of this development. I’d heard about Jeff Flake’s hopes, but I didn’t know about the Freshman conservatives.

    So, what do people feel about Murkowski v Miller? Does this say anything about Palin, or was it simply that the AK voters just didn’t like Miller (or just liked the Murkowski dynasty)?

    – LW/HB

  2. 2


    My personal opinion that the Murky/Miller debacle seems more like a democrap political exercise. I would not be surprised if some shenanigans came to light – I can’t believe that Alaskans are that stupid to re-elect such a POS! Oh well, there is always a reason for what happens, so I’m going to sit back and wait for the answer. Beware Lizza, elections have consequences, so don’t get the big head over your win – it’s only temporary.

  3. 4

    Old Trooper 2

    @, As We All know, Money talks and Nepotism is a chronic disease amongst the ranks of Career Politicians. Nancy Pelosi’s Daddy was a Corrupt Mayor of Baltimore for decades. Career Politicians cut deals, connive and finagle to hold onto power. Need I say more?

  4. 5


    I’m cooking up the popcorn. Seems that Lizzy is going to barge full steam ahead doing the earmarks/pork that she feels she’s entitiled to… cause… Alaska said so! I haven’t seen a good game of chicken since SanFranNan declined to step down.

    Any bets on who flinches first… Lizzy or the Republican leadership..

    Let the games begin!

  5. 6


    The Miller/Murkowski race reminded me of Chicago ward politics. Alaska may be a big state but it’s lightly populated and everything seems to be local.

    I think Miller lost Palin supporter’s support when asked by Cavuto during an interview if he thought Sarah Palin was qualified to be president…. he said he didn’t know. 😯 Being as though Palin, endorsed, supported and contributed to the Miller campaign, her hubby was quite angry and vented in an e-mail that was published in the WaPo, Political and in all kinds of blogs particularly Alaskan blogs which is how many, many converse up there.

    He also was also disciplined for ethics violations in a court case, the Murkowski camp went to court to have the records released shortly before the election. So much mud was flying from all directions.

    I think he was a flawed candidate, looked purty in the beginning but made tactical mistakes along the campaign trail and Alaska winds up with a witch of the same caliber but, she’s a seasoned candidate, had everyone that Palin worked to rid the state of behind her and won….maybe, last I heard, Miller hasn’t conceded yet.

  6. 7

    Hard Right

    My guess is that they played up the outsider card enough to make them flip from Miller. The manufactured “reporter abuse” incident didn’t help. Neither did the “scandal” on computer misuse.

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