A local politician announced his bid for the chairmanship of the House Congressional committee that controls the nation’s purse strings, making him the third Republican to ask for the gavel.
Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Savannah, asked the House Republican Congress on Friday to consider him for the chairmanship of the House Appropriations Committee. The panel is in charge of the federal budget, according to the House Appropriation Committee website.
In a letter drafted to the House Republican Conference, Kingston outlined his qualifications for the top spot on the committee and cited his conservative and budget cutting record, and his communications skills.
“Primarily, I am a committed conservative with a long track record to prove it,” he wrote Friday.
David Obey, a Democrat and current chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, is going to lose the top spot in January. Republicans captured the majority in the House of Representatives on Nov. 2, meaning that when the new Congress takes office in January, that party will have the majority on House committees.
Republicans will dominate the House of Representatives with 240 seats, compared to the 190 seats held by Democrats. Five races are still undecided.
There are currently 37 Democrats and 23 Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee, according to the website. That ratio will change and Republicans will have the majority on the committee when the 111th Congress takes over in January, but it’s not clear how many people from each party will sit on the committee, according to Jennifer Hing, a spokesperson for the Republican House Appropriations Committee.
Rep. Jerry Lewis of California, the current ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, and Rep. Harold Rogers of Kentucky are the two other Republicans also vying for the chairman position on the committee, Hing said.
However, Lewis is close to fulfilling his term at the top of the committee and may not be eligible for the chairmanship. According to the Republican Conference rules, a member can only hold the chairmanship or the ranking member seat for six years. Lewis was the chairman of the Appropriations Committee in 2004 and 2005 and the ranking member from 2006 until present.
Lewis had to ask the House Republican Conference for an exception to serve as the chairman of the committee. It’s not clear if the exception has been granted.
The House Republican Conference, which includes members of the new House of Representatives, will vote on who will serve as chairman of the Appropriation Committee in the first week of December, Hing said.
Kingston, who was first election to the House of Representatives in 1992, would be at the front line of cutting federal spending if he is assumes the helm of the Appropriations Committee, said his spokesperson Chris Crawford.
“This is the committee where it’s all going to get done,” he said. “It would put him at the forefront of …cutting spending and reigning in government and changing the way Washington is done.”
Kingston is up for the unpopular job of being the head of a committee charged with cutting spending, Crawford added.
“He really feels like he’s ready to lead,” he said.