Backed by an endorsement this week from the Wall Street Journal, U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Savannah, is said to be angling for the chairmanship of the House Appropriations Committee.
He may have a chance. Who wants to sit in the most uncomfortable chair in Congress? From Politico.com:
[T]he 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.
“Anybody who’s a Republican right now, come June, is going to be accused of hating seniors, hating education, hating children, hating clean air and probably hating the military and farmers, too,” said Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), a fiscal conservative who is lobbying to become chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. “So much of the work is going to be appropriations related. There’s going to be a lot of tough votes. So some people may want to shy away from the committee. I understand it.”
Kingston said he’s asked U.S. Reps. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., to join the budget committee, and was turned down by both.
In the competition for the chairmanship, the wind beneath Kingston’s wings are these paragraphs at the bottom of a Tuesday editorial in the Wall Street Journal on the topic of federal spending:
The larger test will be how Republicans decide to address Congress’s overall culture of spending, and especially the engines of that culture, the Appropriations Committees. California Republican Jerry Lewis, a former Chairman during the desiccated end of the last House GOP majority, wants a special term-limit waiver to return to that post. He’s desperate enough to get the job that he’s even endorsed a committee seat for Arizona’s Jeff Flake, a noted and heretofore lonely scourge of earmarks.
Such a waiver would be a terrible signal to voters and Members alike, but the next Republican in line by seniority, Harold Rogers of Kentucky, was also one of those who ruined GOP credibility on spending in the Bush years. We think the leadership would be better off reaching down the ranks to elevate Georgia’s Jack Kingston, who has an admirable B+ National Taxpayers Union rating and would carry a reform mandate.
Speaker-presumptive John Boehner could also strengthen Mr. Kingston’s hand by adding Mr. Flake and even some freshmen fiscal hawks to the spending panel. The same goes for Messrs. Coburn and DeMint in the Senate. The Appropriations Committees have a mysterious way of converting even the staunchest tight wads into spendthrifts, so we also recommend a six-year term limit for Appropriations membership.
Earmarks, or “redirects,” have been the topic of the week for Republicans in Washington. On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss issued a statement declaring that he would support an earmark moratorium – with exceptions for emergency spending, including $551 million for the dredging of the Port of Savannah.
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson said much the same thing. From the Associated Press:
Isakson also said he would continue fight for funding for the state while also working to cut federal spending.
“I agree we should not be funding projects that are frivolous or nonessential functions of the federal government,” Isakson said.
Although both senators have resorted to earmarks, Chambliss has secured far more in earmarks than Isakson, according to Legistorm, a website that compiles federal earmark data.
According to the site, Chambliss has been the sole sponsor on 47 earmarks worth $580.5 million from fiscal year 2008-2010. He has been a co-sponsor 313 earmarks worth $1.7 billion. His name has appeared on $2.3 billion worth of earmarks.
Most of Chambliss’ larger earmarks have been for Georgia’s military bases, such as construction of trainee barracks at Fort Benning and other infrastructure improvements at Fort Stewart.
Isakson secured 11 solo earmarks worth $5.6 million. He co-sponsored 251 earmarks worth $1.65 billion. Isakson’s name has appeared on a total of $1.65 billion in earmarks. Among his larger earmarks was a peer reviewed breast cancer research treatment program with several other senators.
He and Chambliss also collaborated on a little over $200 million in earmarks for a regional security operations center in Augusta, Ga.
The National Journal this morning puts U.S. Rep. John Barrow, D-Savannah, at the top of its list of most vulnerable members of Congress when it comes to redistricting:
Barrow is no stranger to redistricting: In 2005, he chose to run in a more Democratic district that didn’t include his home base of Clarke County—after a court ruled the original Democratic-drawn lines were unconstitutional.
With Republicans in control of the process this time around and the state expected to gain a seat in reapportionment, Republicans have an opportunity to squeeze Democratic strongholds around Augusta and Savannah into more Republican districts, which could leave Barrow without both a home and a political base.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has taken himself out of the 2012 presidential sweepstakes. From the Associated Press:
Republicans are seeking hopefuls to challenge President Barack Obama, but the 39-year-old governor said his only political ambition is to run for governor again next year.
“I’m not being coy at all. I’m not running for president in 2012. Period. No ifs, ands or buts, no caveats,” Jindal told The Associated Press in an interview. “We have made great progress in Louisiana, but we’ve got a lot more work to do.”