A Kentucky congressman who has honed his skills at winning pork-barrel projects is in line to head the House committee that will spearhead the Republican drive to trim the fat off federal spending.
Kentucky Republican Hal Rogers campaigned for the chairmanship of the powerful Appropriations Committee by vowing to carry out the GOP's pledge to ban so-called earmarks. The 30-year House veteran also stressed that he was the best man to help the GOP drastically slash federal spending.
ABC News' Jonathan Karl reported on Monday on the prospect of Rogers emerging as the ranking Republican on the committee for the upcoming legislative session:
Roger's has brought so much federal money to his hometown (Somerset, Kentucky; population 11,000) that it is known as Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. There's a $52 million National Center for Hometown Security. The tiny airport that received $17 million in federal dollars but has so little traffic that the last commercial airline pulled out in February. And then there's the Hal Rogers Parkway, which was formerly known as the Daniel Boone Parkway before being renaming for Kentucky's Prince of Pork.
Most recently, Rogers pushed through a $5 million dollar measure this year for conservation groups that work with endangered wild cats. It just so happens that one of the few groups eligible is the Namibia-based Cheetah Conservation Fund. Who works for them? The Congressman's daughter.
The Louisville Courier-Journal reports:
Rogers secured 137 earmarks worth $251.9 million between 2008 and 2010, according to LegisStorm, a nonpartisan congressional watchdog group. That ranked him 99th among Senate and House members with earmarks.
According to the Kentucky-based outlet, the Tea Party Express endorsed a Republican contender other than Rogers to assume the top appropriations role. The conservative organization reportedly said they wanted a chairman committed "to ending the culture of spending in Washington and bringing back fiscal sanity."
David Wasserman, House editor of the Cook Political Report, a non-partisan organization, suggested to the Courier-Journal that the decision to appoint Rogers to the powerful appropriations post could ruffle feathers within the Tea Party community.
"This selection will expose the fissures in the tea party caucus and the freshman Republican class," he speculated, adding that "there will be plenty of incoming Republicans -- who make up over a third of the Republican conference in the House -- who are displeased."
Rogers issued a statement on his appointment on Tuesday. "I am humbled and thrilled with the steering committee's decision, and look forward to the honor and responsibility of leading the Appropriations Committee next year if the full GOP conference approves the recommendation tomorrow," he said.
The New York Times reported on Monday on what coud transpire down the road:
Leading the committee toward a belt-tightening mandate would also mean taking on an entire industry that has been built up around the federal trough, a complex of lobbyists, consultants and corporations that feeds off the competition for dollars and with some regularity produces scandals -- and provides a substantial chunk of the campaign contributions that fuel the American political system.
"It has been a favor factory for years, and now it is going to become a slaughterhouse," said Representative Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican and longtime antagonist of the Appropriations Committee who on Monday was endorsed by Mr. Boehner to be one of several antispending conservatives to be seated on the panel. "It is going to get ugly."
Rogers was one of some 20 House lawmakers whom the party's steering committee has chosen to chair committees next year when Republicans return to the majority they last held four years ago.