Republicans avoiding Appropriations assignment in House?

posted at 3:10 pm on November 17, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Until now, a seat on the House Appropriations Committee would have been considered a plum assignment, perhaps the pinnacle of one’s Congressional career, regardless of party affiliation.  Such an assignment would bring prestige, visibility, and especially power, as members often favor their home districts with pork-barrel spending — and can control how much other members of the House get to take home to theirs.  The competition for such entry points to Capitol Hill careerists made those committee assignments one of the biggest decisions for caucus leadership.

Not this year, though.  As Politico reports, Republicans want to distance themselves from the compromises and sleazy deals that have become the hallmark of Appropriations, and John Boehner is having trouble finding takers:

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.

There is one Republican who wants a seat on the panel: Jeff Flake.  The anti-pork crusader has fought for years to get a seat on the committee so that he can follow through on his threat to publicize every pork request that the panel considers, and then to vote against them all.  Flake found some surprising support this year when Appropriations veteran Jerry Lewis (R-CA) endorsed Flake for the committee seat.  Lewis wants the chair of Appropriations (he was the ranking member in this session), and endorsed Flake in part to show that he got the message from voters in 2010 about fighting pork and reducing spending.  Eric Cantor, the #2 man in GOP House leadership, reportedly wants Flake on the committee, and other reformers too.

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.  Let’s get Flake, Jason Chaffetz, and other no-pork stalwarts onto Appropriations and really reform Congress.


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Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) was asked to be an appropriator and said thanks, but no thanks.

..smart and devastatingly beautiful!

The War Planner on November 17, 2010 at 3:12 PM

They get elected and then don’t want to work? That doesn’t sound so great to me.

DaydreamBeliever on November 17, 2010 at 3:13 PM

Um folks, we put you in power to do the heavy lifting. Now is not the time to go all wobbly, now is the time to cut budgets and when the Democrats whine, simply say “I’m sorry, but the money isn’t there for that.”

rbj on November 17, 2010 at 3:14 PM

Get Flaky!

Rocks on November 17, 2010 at 3:14 PM

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. Let’s get Flake, Jason Chaffetz, and other no-pork stalwarts onto Appropriations and really reform Congress.

Next you’ll be telling me they support term limits and a balanced budget amendment, Ed. Stop teasing me!

Doughboy on November 17, 2010 at 3:15 PM

Draining the swamp septic tank after Nancy’s 111th party.

VastRightWingConspirator on November 17, 2010 at 3:16 PM

They should rename it to be the Budget Cutting and Ruthless Efficiency Committee.

pedestrian on November 17, 2010 at 3:17 PM

Don’t forget, any conservative on the appropriations committee is going to be the target of everything the progressives can throw at them, and it will be vicious.

Any moderate republican on that committee will have his psyche twisted up into a pretzel by both sides, conservatives and progressives. That committee is ground zero for the next two years.

Skandia Recluse on November 17, 2010 at 3:17 PM

Let’s get Flake, Jason Chaffetz, and other no-pork stalwarts onto Appropriations and really reform Congress.

AMEN!!!!!

capejasmine on November 17, 2010 at 3:17 PM

We need people that are interested in action! We get enough platitudes from Obama.

search4truth on November 17, 2010 at 3:19 PM

“I’m sorry, but the money isn’t there for that.”

Nobody wants to be that bad guy.

The majority of Republicans are as cowardly and self-interested as they’ve ever been. 2010 was an OK first step, but there are still plenty more Republican losers who need to be primary-challenged out of office.

sandberg on November 17, 2010 at 3:21 PM

This is great news. I hope that this is one sign among many to come that the GOP really has learned their lesson, and that the progressive wing of the GOP is on its way out. Shrink the federal government now.

Weight of Glory on November 17, 2010 at 3:21 PM

OT: AP is reporting that the Murk won

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/11/17/murkowski-wins-election-write-candidate-ap-projects/

tommer74 on November 17, 2010 at 3:22 PM

..smart and devastatingly beautiful!

The War Planner on November 17, 2010 at 3:12 PM

A “leader” running from leadership? She only wants what is “easy”?
Compare her to a real fighter, Flake, and you will see “all hat and no cattle”.

right2bright on November 17, 2010 at 3:23 PM

I want someone up there with sharp elbows and is willing to slam heads on the table.

ted c on November 17, 2010 at 3:24 PM

Strange–one would think that all the deficit hawks would WANT a seat on this committee, to give them some real power to CUT spending. Since Republicans will have the majority on this (and all other) House committees next term, this would make for interesting debate between the R spending cutters and the D spenders repeatedly voted down.

At last count, there will be 62 new Republicans in the House–maybe some of THEM (who probably won their seats on fiscal issues) might want a seat on that committee. Give ‘em a scalpel…or an axe.

Steve Z on November 17, 2010 at 3:26 PM

Any moderate republican on that committee will have his psyche twisted up into a pretzel by both sides, conservatives and progressives. That committee is ground zero for the next two years.

Skandia Recluse on November 17, 2010 at 3:17 PM

They spent millions for that job, then they can’t take the pressure?
Sorry, they were sent to do a specific job, turn the economy and budget around. So looks like a few of them will have to actually work and fight…poor baby.
The Tea Party will not tolerate weak souls, not after what they have been through the past couple of years.

right2bright on November 17, 2010 at 3:27 PM

What I really want to know though is what GOProud thinks of this…

Rocks on November 17, 2010 at 3:31 PM

Earmarks & porks are the first important steps….the big prizes are SS & healthcare.

tommer74 on November 17, 2010 at 3:33 PM

I’ll take this as a good sign for now.

disa on November 17, 2010 at 3:34 PM

I don’t get it: why did Bachmann back off?

I like her, but it’s time to put up or shut up.

She had better be on some committee making some Dem’s life miserable, or I’ll consider my contribution to her campaign a poor use of money.

BuckeyeSam on November 17, 2010 at 3:36 PM

They get elected and then don’t want to work? That doesn’t sound so great to me.

DaydreamBeliever on November 17, 2010 at 3:13 PM

That’s the Devil’s work. Good for the real conservatives.

THEY KNOW THAT WHATEVER APPROPRIATION BILL THEY DESIGN, THE WHITE HOUSE WILL JUST PUT EARMARKS EARMARKS EARMARKS EARMARKS AND OTHER HIDDEN BUDGET LINES ON IT.

And the “Lead Appropriator” will just take the blame.

Flaky has a good objective though. Instead of actually “doing the appropriations” [i.e. budget allotment], his “god-ordained” task is to LIST THE EARMARK-PORKY LOVERS.

TheAlamos on November 17, 2010 at 3:38 PM

Appropriations, and John Boehner is having trouble finding takers

If that is true then the question has to be why hasn’t Boehner already offered it to the highly recommended Jeff Flake?

patrick neid on November 17, 2010 at 3:39 PM

Bachman should have accepted. There need to be MORE like Jeff Flake on that committee, not less. The culture of pork will never change there if people that aren’t anti-pork refuse to be a part of it.

Jeff Flake for Chairman!@!!

lizzie beth on November 17, 2010 at 3:39 PM

now that the earmark ban balanced the budget, who cares about boring stuff like this anyway?

sesquipedalian on November 17, 2010 at 3:41 PM

Flake! Flake! Flake!

GarandFan on November 17, 2010 at 3:48 PM

Sorry, Bachmann. If you turn down a chance to reduce our government, I will certainly turn down a chance to assist your next campaign.

As others have said, this is why you’re in Washington.

Scott H on November 17, 2010 at 4:03 PM

Draining the swamp septic tank after Nancy’s 111th party.

VastRightWingConspirator on November 17, 2010 at 3:16 PM

They will find that the drain is clogged with $

cartooner on November 17, 2010 at 4:03 PM

Jerry Lewis SHOULD NOT be the Appropriations Chairman. He is corrupt as heel and abuses his seat as Appropriator.

Apologetic California on November 17, 2010 at 4:04 PM

now that the earmark ban balanced the budget, who cares about boring stuff like this anyway?

sesquipedalian on November 17, 2010 at 3:41 PM

What budget?

BlueCollarAstronaut on November 17, 2010 at 4:04 PM

Is Bachman holding out for something better? It’s going to take brass cojones to start the cutting, which everyone knows is going to hurt — hang it around the Dem’s necks if they stymie it. I’d have thought Bachman would be up for it.

Fortunata on November 17, 2010 at 4:13 PM

This Jeff Flake?

In all seriousness, he would be perfect for the committee, he would embarrass quite a few congressman.

commodore on November 17, 2010 at 4:19 PM

Hey, good one for Lisa M.

AnninCA on November 17, 2010 at 4:20 PM

Michelle. Say it ain’t so!

davidk on November 17, 2010 at 4:24 PM

I picture Jerry Lewis (R-CA) saying…”Hey Flaaaaky!” Thank you..I will be here all week.

journeyscarab on November 17, 2010 at 4:32 PM

Sea change!

jnelchef on November 17, 2010 at 4:33 PM

This is one time when having a Flake in office could be a good thing.

ReneePA on November 17, 2010 at 4:35 PM

Werry interesting … hmmm

tarpon on November 17, 2010 at 4:57 PM

Jeff Flake for Chairman!

How about Jeff Flake for President!

humdinger on November 17, 2010 at 5:08 PM

This is good news if the result is that Flake gets on the committee.

Jasper61 on November 17, 2010 at 5:16 PM

I think it would be great for a fiscal conserative to take that post. After all, what better opportunity to set a good example?

And what better position for stopping needless spending? You’d make a lot of enemies in Congress, but you shouldn’t be there to make friends.

hawksruleva on November 17, 2010 at 5:17 PM

They should rename it to be the Budget Cutting and Ruthless Efficiency Committee.

pedestrian on November 17, 2010 at 3:17 PM

They should rename it the Government Waste Death Panel.

Kafir on November 17, 2010 at 5:41 PM

I think Michele Bachman is on the Banking Committee along with Rangel and Maxine Waters. Now there’s an interesting committee. She has her work cut out for her.

BetseyRoss on November 17, 2010 at 7:18 PM

Yep, Jason Chaffetz, Jeff Flake, Wally Herger and Rob Bishop. Call it the “Mormon Caucus”. Hey, well, we are known for having INTEGRITY.
I do not know what happened to Harry Reid (brain damage?).

pacard33 on November 17, 2010 at 8:00 PM

DaydreamBeliever on November 17, 2010 at 3:13 PM

How’s life under the bridge?

Mr. Grump on November 18, 2010 at 7:06 AM

Col. West also comes to mind.

Kissmygrits on November 18, 2010 at 9:12 AM