Heard on the Hill

Taylor and Aguilar Are Tasked With ‘Flower Power’

Junior Appropriations members are responsible for collecting for flowers sent to members after big life events

As the most junior members of House Appropriations, Reps. Pete Aguilar, left, and Scott Taylor are tasked with chasing down donations for the Flower Fund. (Bill Clark and Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photos)

It’s a tradition on the House Appropriations Committee to show your colleagues that you care about them.

Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen kicked off a markup of the Legislative Branch and Military Construction-VA appropriations bills last week by calling for each member to give a $20 donation to the Flower Fund.

The fund sends flowers to lawmakers on the committee in the event of family loss, birth or other milestones in their lives.

Virginia Republican Scott Taylor and California Democrat Pete Aguilar, the members with the least seniority, are in charge of collecting.

“Other members have held these titles that we have now, so I think they respect that. On our side this morning, they were walking over and tossing money, so I had to frantically write names down,” Aguilar said about collecting for the Democrats at the markup on Tuesday.

[Revealed: An Exclusive Ways and Means Secret Tradition]

Taylor added, “So do I, and I’m afraid maybe I missed one. I got a bunch of money. There’s probably a couple people who skipped out on it too — that we have to go beat down.”

“Now we have to go chase them down,” Aguilar agreed.

The two made the rounds last year, too, and Taylor handed out stickers with his face inside a flower.

They call their duty “flower power” and joke about how they can make it a competition.

Rep. Scott Taylor, R-Va., handed out stickers to GOP committee members to collect money. (Courtesy of Taylor)
Rep. Scott Taylor, R-Va., handed out stickers to GOP committee members to collect money. (Courtesy Scott Taylor)

“I think there should be a little friendly rivalry, like who can turn it in first, which side,” Aguilar said.

Taylor suggested they decide which party wins by “who’s giving the most money.” 

“You guys have more members, you’re in the majority,” Aguilar responded.

“Let’s keep it at more money,” Taylor laughed.

Aguilar then proposed the deciding factor be the “speed at which you get it in, because you might have a delinquent that you have to chase.”

“I have a few,” Taylor said.

Aguilar added, “I do as well.”

While they joke about a partisan rivalry, they are happy to be a part of the tradition of bipartisanship.

“On the serious side, it’s just a small thing the committee can do,” Aguilar said. “This is a committee that’s known for its bipartisanship too, so I think it’s nice when you can work together to send something from the committee, both Democrats and Republicans, to tell a colleague that we’re thinking about them or to congratulate them on a new arrival.”

A recent recipient of a gift from the Flower Fund was Democratic Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, whose mother died at the age of 103 in September.

The fund also celebrates new life.

When Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington had a baby in 2013, she received flowers from the fund, Taylor said.

“These types of bipartisan efforts that bring people together, relationship wise, are largely missing from the media and from what probably most Americans think is happening up here when the reality is, we’re all on the same team in the end, Team America,” the Virginia Republican said. “It helps bring us together.”

Katherine Tully-McManus contributed to this report.

Watch — The Congressional War on Flowers: A Brief History

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