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Angling for the chairmanship of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Jack Kingston is suggesting using the post to slash away at the costs of running the Congress, and he has a list of targets in mind already.
In an interview Friday, the Georgia Republican — a former chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch — provided a detailed cost-cutting vision, indicating that if he becomes chairman, he will make a top priority cutting funding for House operations.
On the chopping block in a Kingston-led committee: Capitol Police security details, Capitol Visitor Center tour guides and maybe even an entire agency.
“Do we still need a Government Printing Office?” he asked. “If I was chairman with the gavel, I’d ask these questions.”
The Republican Steering Committee is expected to vote today on who will chair the committee in the 112th Congress. Kingston is challenging more senior Reps. Jerry Lewis (Calif.), the committee’s ranking member, and Hal Rogers (Ky.), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Homeland Security.
Rogers has said he will cut spending to fiscal 2008 levels. Lewis has gone so far as to say he will cut his own committee budget and staff.
But having once held the gavel for the subcommittee that oversees the Capitol budget, as well as the budgets of Congressional agencies from the Library of Congress to the Government Accountability Office, Kingston isn’t shy about ticking off a laundry list of cuts he’d like to implement around the Capitol complex.
“The Appropriations Committee is getting out of the spending bus and onto the saving bus,” he said. “We do not have a choice. Our backs are up against the wall. We have to destroy the spending infrastructure in this town.”
First and foremost would be reducing Capitol Police security details, he said.
Kingston took issue with Capitol Police employing some 1,800 officers to guard a few buildings when the Fairfax County Police Department employs about the same amount across the entire region. Kingston’s plan calls for eliminating personnel.
“You don’t want to do it randomly,” he said. “You don’t want to cut a security patrol from a vulnerable checkpoint. But if there are checkpoints that aren’t so valuable, you might be padding it.”
Kingston said he favors doing away with officers detailed to the Capitol’s House-side car entrance, especially since New Jersey Avenue Southeast and South Capitol Street Southeast are already closed to vehicle traffic between the House office buildings.
“You have them blocked, structurally and through security, so why do you still have to have police at the gate?” he said.