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OPINION

Flake's New Appropriations Bid

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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Earmark hawk Rep. Jeff Flake (R.-Ariz.) is once again making a bid for the appropriations committee where there are vacant spots to be filled by Republicans.

Flake is infamous for engaging in contentious stand-offs with Republicans and Democrats alike over wasteful spending. He was punished by earmarkers in his own party in 2006 for exposing GOP pork with the loss of his seat on the Judiciary committee. His irritated colleagues said he was “grandstanding.”

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Fiscal conservatives who lobbied an aggressive “Make it Flake” campaign in 2008 were heartbroken when Republican leadership filled an open slot on appropriations with Alabama Rep. Jo Bonner who was trumpeting his earmarks on his government website the week he was selected.

The Republican Steering Committee will soon be voting to send new Republicans to the panel in January and Flake desperately wants to be one of them. Flake told Townhall he could help members of the Appropriations Committee focus on their traditional role rather than spending all their time rifling through the tens of thousands of funding requests that come from members each year. In 2008, 36,000 requests were submitted. “They are there to exercise oversight over all federal spending so what we’ve done is, in exchange for being able to earmark one percent of the budget we essentially give up all jurisdiction over our ability to conduct oversight over 99 percent of the budget!” Flake said. “We really sell ourselves short for just a smidgen of the budget.”

“If they want me on, there is certainly room and the question is are we ready to use appropriations committee for it’s intended purpose and that’s to scrutinize spending rather than be a vehicle for earmarks,” Flake said.

Conservatives are once again lining up their support to put Flake on Appropriations. The anti-tax advocacy group FreedomWorks has renewed their 2008 “Make it Flake” campaign at www.makeitflake.com. “There are 59 members of the House Appropriations Committee,” the site says. “We think it is time to have at least one Committee member who doesn't take earmarks and who doesn't support pork barrel spending."

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The Club for Growth’s Pat Toomey made the case for Flake in the pages of the National Review writing, “[House Minority Leader] John Boehner should use his influence and leadership position to appoint Rep. Jeff Flake to the Appropriations Committee.”

The Republican Steering Committee, which makes all GOP committee assignments, will vote to send new members to the committee in January. As Minority Leader John Boehner will have five votes. Whip Eric Cantor will have two votes. The other members of the 29-person panel will have one vote each.

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