Cindy Hyde-Smith to lead Senate Legislative Branch spending panel

Mississippi Republican takes over from Montana’s Steve Daines

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., will chair the Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee for the new Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith will take the gavel of the Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee for the new Congress. The Mississippi Republican is a relative newcomer to the panel, which she joined in April of last year, taking the slot left open by her predecessor Thad Cochran’s resignation.

The subcommittee’s previous chairman, Montana’s Steve Daines, received a waiver to join the Senate Finance Committee, becoming among the first senators to serve on Appropriations and Finance since 1944. (Oklahoma’s James Lankford was given a similar waiver.)

Hyde-Smith won a hard-fought runoff election in November, but this new gig will have her thinking more about Capitol Hill than Mississippi.

The Legislative Branch panel oversees federal spending on the Hill, including lawmaker’s office accounts, the Library of Congress, Capitol Police and the Architect of the Capitol. It’s the smallest of the 12 annual spending bills, but has an outsize impact on the Capitol Hill community, including funding investments in campus security and allowing sledding on Capitol grounds.

Hyde-Smith’s leadership of the panel will also make her a key stakeholder in the search for the new architect of the Capitol, which is already underway. Stephen T. Ayers left his post in November after ascending to the top AOC job over a 20-year career with the agency.

Hyde-Smith will work with acting Architect Christine A. Merdon, who will likely testify before the panel and meet with appropriators about AOC budget priorities while the search proceeds.

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