James R. Carroll
U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers — known for his ability to secure funding for projects in his Eastern Kentucky district — was selected Tuesday as the new chairman of House Appropriations, the most powerful committee in Congress.
The 5th District Republican was chosen by the GOP steering committee in a secret vote late Tuesday afternoon. The decision is expected to be ratified Wednesday by the rest of the House Republicans.
Rogers beat out fellow committee veteran and former chairman Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., and relative newcomer Jack Kingston, R-Ga.
“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,” Rogers said in a statement.
“There is no doubt that we have a tough and demanding chore ahead of us. The nation is in a fiscal crisis, and hard decisions are coming.”
Republicans took control of the House in the November election, giving it the power to name the chamber's leaders, including committee chairmen.
Rogers will preside over the writing of all the federal spending bills — and over the House GOP leadership's plans next year to whack away at President Barack Obama's next budget and stem the flow of dollars out of Washington.
In the lead-up to the selection, some conservatives argued that neither Rogers nor Lewis was qualified to be the chairman because of their past history as vigorous users of earmarks, special requests for spending on state and local projects.
Critics dubbed Rogers “the Prince of Pork” and called his earmark-benefitted district, where everything from highway construction to homeland security contracts had the Kentuckian's help over the years, “Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.”
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.
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