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Rep. Hal Rogers, a longtime proponent of earmarks, was selected Tuesday to be the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee as the panel faces a changing mission amid concerns about federal spending.
GOP sources confirmed that the House Republican Steering Committee chose the Kentucky Republican over Reps. Jack Kingston (Ga.) and Jerry Lewis (Calif.), who also sought the gavel of the historically powerful spending committee.
Sources also confirmed that Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) was selected to lead the Energy and Commerce Committee over current ranking member Joe Barton (Texas) and Reps. John Shimkus (Ill.) and Cliff Stearns (Fla.).
Rogers, who has been unapologetic about his work to secure federal dollars for his district over his 30-year House career, will take the helm of the Appropriations panel in the early stages of a transition away from its traditional role in doling out Congressional pork.
House Republicans voted last month to eliminate earmarks in the 112th Congress, a decision that will fundamentally change the way the Appropriations Committee functions. Rogers, whom the Lexington Herald-Leader once dubbed “the Prince of Pork,” has praised the ban and pledged to help leadership reform the spending process.
Upton was considered the odds-on favorite to win the Energy and Commerce post following presentations to the Steering Committee last week. Barton, who has served as ranking member for the past two Congresses, needed to obtain a waiver to lead the panel next Congress.
Upton, who built a reputation as a GOP centrist for most of his career in Congress, promised better oversight and communication in his campaign to secure the powerful gavel.
The Michigan Republican faced challenges because of his ideology and voting record. In the weeks leading to the panel’s decision, Americans United for Life sent a letter to Republican lawmakers urging that Upton not be selected to lead the panel, arguing that he was not a strong enough advocate on anti-abortion issues.
The Appropriations and Energy and Commerce chairmanships were the most contested battles decided Tuesday by the Steering panel.
The entire House Republican Conference must ratify the Steering Committee’s chairman decisions. That vote is expected to take place Wednesday.