Is Change Coming to a Powerful Committee?

Posted: Dec 09, 2010 12:49 PM
It may seem like inside baseball, but the power wielded by the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee will intimately impact your daily life, because that committee has jurisdiction over the federal budget.

The incoming chairman, Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky, has undergone criticism for his past penchant for earmarks, but it sounds that, unlike Nancy Pelosi, Rogers is signaling he got the American people's message Nov. 2.

On a conference call yesterday with reporters, Rogers said he believed the mandate of the election was to cut spending.

"The goal will be to get more bang for the buck in government," Rogers said of the upcoming era in Congress.

What will the Appropriations Committee look like under Rogers' tenure? He said he supports the earmark moratorium that the GOP adopted in the House and will enforce it.  He said earmarks that come over from the Senate (where again only the GOP has adopted a moratorium) will be stripped out in conference between the two chambers. He said oversight is going to be the mainstay of what he does, and though he expressed interest in Rep. Jeff Flake's idea for an investigatory subcommittee on Appropriations, Rogers floated the idea of random investigative panels for specific problem areas.

He said he's already spoken with some Democrats and wants to restore regular order on the committee -- open and full debates and transparency.

Perhaps most key for the American people, Rogers said he wants to get all 12 House appropriations bills (there are traditionally 12) filed under transparent, open rules. Congress' inability to get these bills done recently has resulted in huge omnibus spending bills.