- United States House Committee on Appropriations
The Committee on Appropriations is a committee of the United States House of Representatives. It is in charge of setting the specific expenditures of money by the government of the United States. As such, it is one of the most powerful of the committees, and its members are seen as influential.
- No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law; and a regular statement and account of receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time.
This clearly delegated the power of appropriating money to Congress, but was vague beyond that. Originally, the power of appropriating was taken by the Committee on Ways and Means, but the United States Civil War placed a large burden on the Congress, and at the end of that conflict, a reorganization occurred.
The Committee was created on December 11, 1865, when the House separated the tasks of the Committee on Ways and Means into three parts. The passage of legislation affecting taxes remained with Ways and Means. The power to regulate banking was transferred to the Committee on Banking and Commerce. The power to appropriate money—to control the federal pursestrings—was given to the newly-created Appropriations Committee.
At the time the membership of the committee stood at nine; it currently has 60 members. The power of the committee has only grown since its founding; many of its members and chairmen have gone on to even higher posts. For example, four of them--Samuel Randall (D-PA), Joseph Cannon (R-IL), Joseph Byrns (D-TN) and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)--have gone on to become the Speaker of the House, and one, James Garfield, has gone on to become President.
The root of the Committee's power is its ability to disburse funds, and thus as the federal budget has risen, so has the power of the Appropriations Committee. The first budget of the U.S., in 1789, was for $639,000—a hefty sum for the time, but a much smaller amount relative to the economy than the federal budget would later become. By the time the Appropriations committee was founded, the Civil War and inflation had raised expenditures to roughly $1.3 billion, increasing the clout of Appropriations. Expenditures continued to follow this pattern—rising sharply during wars before settling down—for over 100 years.
Another important development for Appropriations occurred in the presidency of Warren G. Harding. Harding was the first President to deliver a budget proposal to Congress (see United States budget process).
In the early 1970s, the Appropriations committee faced a crisis. President Richard Nixon began "impounding" funds, not allowing them to be spent, even when Congress had specifically appropriated money for a cause. This was essentially a line-item veto. Numerous court cases were filed by outraged interest groups and members of Congress. Eventually, the sense that Congress needed to regain control of the budget process led to the adoption of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, which finalized the budget process in its current form.
The Appropriations committee is widely recognized by political scientists as one of the "power committees," since it holds the power of the purse. Openings on the Appropriations committee are often hotly demanded, and are doled out as rewards. It is one of the exclusive committees of the House, meaning its members typically sit on no other committee. Under House Rules, an exception to this is that five Members of the Appropriations Committee must serve on the House Budget Committee—three for the Majority and two for the Minority. Much of the power of the committee comes from the inherent utility of controlling spending. Its subcommittee chairmen are often called "Cardinals" because of the power they wield over the budget.
Since Congress is elected from single-member districts, how well the member secures rewards for his or her district is one of the best indicators as to whether or not he or she will be reelected. One way to achieve popularity in one's district is to bring it federal spending, thus creating jobs and raising economic performance. This type of spending is often derided by critics as pork barrel spending, while those who engage in it generally defend it as necessary and appropriate expenditure of government funds. The members of the Appropriations committee can do this better than most, and as such the appointment is regarded as a plus. This help can also be directed towards other members, increasing the stature of committee members in the House and helping them gain support for leadership positions or other honors.
The committee tends to be less partisan than other committees or the House overall. While the minority party will offer amendments during committee consideration, appropriations bills often get significant bipartisan support, both in committee and on the House floor. This atmosphere can be attributed to the fact that all committee members have a compelling interest in ensuring legislation will contain money for their own districts. Conversely, because members of this committee can easily steer money to their home districts, it is considered very difficult to unseat a member of this committee at an election—especially if he or she is a "Cardinal."
Members, 112th Congress
- Hal Rogers, Kentucky, Chairman
- C.W. Bill Young, Florida
- Jerry Lewis, California
- Frank Wolf, Virginia
- Jack Kingston, Georgia
- Rodney Frelinghuysen, New Jersey
- Tom Latham, Iowa
- Robert Aderholt, Alabama
- Jo Ann Emerson, Missouri
- Kay Granger, Texas
- Mike Simpson, Idaho
- John Culberson, Texas
- Ander Crenshaw, Florida
- Denny Rehberg, Montana
- John Carter, Texas
- Rodney Alexander, Louisiana
- Ken Calvert, California
- Jo Bonner, Alabama
- Steve LaTourette, Ohio
- Tom Cole, Oklahoma
- Jeff Flake, Arizona
- Mario Diaz-Balart, Florida
- Charlie Dent, Pennsylvania
- Steve Austria, Ohio
- Cynthia Lummis, Wyoming
- Tom Graves, Georgia
- Kevin Yoder, Kansas
- Steve Womack, Arkansas
- Alan Nunnelee, Mississippi
- Norman D. Dicks, Washington, Ranking Member
- Marcy Kaptur, Ohio
- Pete Visclosky, Indiana
- Nita Lowey, New York
- José Serrano, New York
- Rosa DeLauro, Connecticut
- Jim Moran, Virginia
- John Olver, Massachusetts
- Ed Pastor, Arizona
- David Price, North Carolina
- Maurice Hinchey, New York
- Lucille Roybal-Allard, California
- Sam Farr, California
- Jesse Jackson, Jr., Illinois
- Chaka Fattah, Pennsylvania
- Steve Rothman, New Jersey
- Sanford Bishop, Georgia
- Barbara Lee, California
- Adam Schiff, California
- Mike Honda, California
- Betty McCollum, Minnesota
- Resolutions electing Republican members (H.Res. 6)
- Resolutions electing Democratic members (H.Res. 7, H.Res. 31)
Committee reorganization during the 110th Congress
In 2007, the number of subcommittees was expanded to 12 in 2007 at the start of the 110th Congress. This reorganization, developed by Chairman David Obey and his Senate counterpart, Robert Byrd, for the first time provided for common subcommittee structures between both houses, a move that both chairmen hope will allow Congress to "complete action on each of the government funding on time for the first time since 1994."
The new structure adds a new Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, and transfers jurisdiction over Legislative Branch appropriations from the full committee to the newly reinstated Legislative Branch Subcommittee, which last existed during the 108th Congress.
Chairman Party State Years Thaddeus Stevens Republican Pennsylvania 1865–1868 Elihu B. Washburne Republican Illinois 1868–1869 Henry L. Dawes Republican Massachusetts 1869–1871 James A. Garfield Republican Ohio 1871–1875 Samuel J. Randall Democratic Pennsylvania 1875–1876 William S. Holman Democratic Indiana 1876–1877 John D. C. Atkins Democratic Tennessee 1877–1881 Frank Hiscock Republican New York 1881–1883 Samuel J. Randall Democratic Pennsylvania 1883–1889 Joseph G. Cannon Republican Illinois 1889–1891 William S. Holman Democratic Indiana 1891–1893 Joseph D. Sayers Democratic Texas 1893–1895 Joseph G. Cannon Republican Illinois 1895–1903 James A. Hemenway Republican Indiana 1903–1905 James Albertus Tawney Republican Minnesota 1905–1911 John J. Fitzgerald Democratic New York 1911–1917 J. Swagar Sherley Democratic Kentucky 1917–1919 James W. Good Republican Iowa 1919–1921 Martin B. Madden Republican Illinois 1921–1928 Daniel R. Anthony, Jr. Republican Kansas 1928–1929 William R. Wood Republican Indiana 1929–1931 Joseph W. Byrns Democratic Tennessee 1931–1933 James P. Buchanan Democratic Texas 1933–1937 Edward T. Taylor Democratic Colorado 1937–1941 Clarence Cannon Democratic Missouri 1941–1947 John Taber Republican New York 1947–1949 Clarence Cannon Democratic Missouri 1949–1953 John Taber Republican New York 1953–1955 Clarence Cannon Democratic Missouri 1955–1964 George H. Mahon Democratic Texas 1964–1979 Jamie L. Whitten Democratic Mississippi 1979–1993 William H. Natcher Democratic Kentucky 1993–1994 David R. Obey Democratic Wisconsin 1994–1995 Bob Livingston Republican Louisiana 1995–1999 C.W. Bill Young Republican Florida 1999–2005 Jerry Lewis Republican California 2005–2007 David R. Obey Democratic Wisconsin 2007–2011 Hal Rogers Republican Kentucky 2011–present
- ^ http://appropriations.house.gov/News/pr_070104.shtml Senate, House Appropriations Set Subcommittee Plans for New Congress
- ^ http://thehill.com/homenews/house/134037-rep-dicks-gets-to-keep-two-top-slots-on-spending-panel
- Committee on Appropriations, U.S. House of Representatives
- A Concise History of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations (Dec. 2010)
- Appropriations Subcommittee Structure: History of Changes from 1920 to 2011 by Congressional Research Service.
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