Fresh off her primary victory, Rep. Marcy Kaptur faces another heated battle against fellow Democrats for the party’s top spot on the Appropriations Committee.
The Ohio Democrat is next in line behind retiring ranking member Norm Dicks (Wash.) on the powerful panel, and while the seniority system works in her favor, several colleagues, including Reps. Nita Lowey (N.Y.) and Jim Moran (Va.), are lining up support to take the top spot next year.
Kaptur defeated Rep. Dennis Kucinich on Tuesday, and in an interview, the veteran lawmaker said she interrupted her campaigning briefly last week to make calls on the Appropriations opening. With her primary behind her, Kaptur said she is turning her focus to the panel’s top spot.
“I’m going to be working on this the rest of the year,” she said.
New York Democrats, though, are eager to regain a top spot on an exclusive committee after Rep. Charlie Rangel’s ouster in the last Congress from the top spot on the Ways and Means Committee.
“Not to disparage anyone, but I think Nita has a little more substance,” one Democratic lawmaker said of Lowey, who ranks behind Kaptur in seniority on the committee. “She’s intelligent. She has the respect of her colleagues. She’s a proven fundraiser for the colleagues. She’s chaired the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee]. She’s helped other Democrats get elected. And you have to look at electability. Nita is a likable person.”
At the moment, the two female lawmakers appear to be the frontrunners, and either could become the top woman to represent her party on the panel. While some fear that a matchup between the two could split women in the Caucus, the Democratic lawmaker noted that Lowey supports abortion rights while Kaptur does not.
Kaptur rebuffed the criticism, however, saying, “As a woman, for me, women’s issues go way beyond” abortion, highlighting her work on pay equity, health care and education.
Moran, a longtime appropriator and the top Democrat on the Subcommittee on the Interior and Environment, has already made calls to colleagues. Spokeswoman Anne Hughes said Moran “has seen how Appropriations was meant to reflect the priorities of the legislative branch and intends to work aggressively to restore the Congress’ prerogative, which requires pursuit of the full committee’s chairmanship.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.