Senate Committee on Appropriations

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The Senate Appropriations Committee is the largest committee in the U.S. Senate, consisting of 29 members. Its role is defined by the U.S. Constitution, which requires "appropriations made by law" prior to the expenditure of any money from the Treasury, and is therefore one of the most powerful committees in the Senate.The committee was first organized on March 6, 1867, when power over appropriations was taken out of the hands of the Finance Committee.

Contents

Members

MemberPartyState
Daniel InouyeDHI
Robert ByrdDNC
Patrick LeahyDVT
Tom HarkinDIA
Barbara MikulskiDMD
Herb KohlDWI
Patty MurrayDWA
Byron DorganDMD
Dianne FeinsteinDCA
Richard DurbinDIL
Tim P. JohnsonDSD
Mary LandrieuDLA
Jack ReedDRI
Frank LautenbergDNJ
Ben NelsonDNE
Mark PryorDAR
Jon TesterDMT
Thad CochranRMS
Arlen SpecterRME
Kit BondROH
Mitch McConnellRKY
Richard ShelbyRAL
Judd GreggRMS
Robert BennettDNM
Kay Bailey HutchisonRTX
Sam BrownbackDOH
Lamar AlexanderRTN
Susan CollinsRME
George VoinovichDIN
Lisa MurkowskiRAK


Subcommittees

Action

110th Congress

Cheney attempts to exempt his office from investigation

In June, 2007, members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform began challenging Vice President Dick Cheney's assertion that his office was not an "entity within the executive branch" and thus not subject to certain oversight measures. Representative Henry Waxman (D-Calif) began issuing complaints on June 21, 2007. Waxman's complaints were followed by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y) calling for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to recuse himself from Waxman's investigation, stating that Gonzales had "lost the faith and trust of the American people in making impartial decisions when it affects the president and vice president."[1]

Durbin threatens to cut off funding to Vice President's office

On June 25, 2007, Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the committee which funds the Vice President's office, threatened to cut off funding to Cheney's office if Cheney continued to exempt his office from oversight.[2]

Earmark reductions

In March 2007, “Sen. Byrd has informed his colleagues that there will be a significant reduction in the number of earmarks and the amount of money”. Each subcommittee chair has been contacted to include provisions for additional limits on earmarks. Meanwhile, the new financial disclosure rules have been placed into a bill requiring the Presidents signature. The bill will be considered for signing in June 2007. [3]

Main article: Earmarks
Main article: House Rule XXVI - Financial disclosure

Earmarks go to Cochran and Shelby

In July of 2007, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), the Senate Appropriations Committee’s ranking Republican, and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the ranking Republican member on the C-J-S Subcommittee, received almost one-third of the total dollar value of earmarks in the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill. They would take home at least $150 million out of a total of $469 million of earmarks in the bill. Shelby and Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), the subcommittee chairwoman, each had a roughly equal amount of earmark money to distribute among their members, but while the Democrats shared out more earmark money with non-appropriators, Shelby and Cochran retained a large share of the money.[4]

Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense argued that ranking Appropriations subcommittee members benefited from their positions, and that Shelby was particularly “unabashed in his pursuit of earmarks.”[5]

$7.5 billion in earmarks goes unclaimed

According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, senators had not claimed responsibility for at least $7.5 billion worth of projects approved by the Appropriations Committee. Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense commented, "Part of the whole effort of transparency is to move the budget out of the shadows and into the light... The public deserves to know what Congress and the administration are doing with their tax dollars." The Senate Appropriations Committee argued that this unclaimed money was not attributed to earmarks, but instead to other projects. A Senate Appropriations Committee aide commented, "There really is no precise understanding statutorily or otherwise about what an earmark is."[6]

As compared to the House, the Senate functions under more lenient earmarking rules, and in many cases senators have secured substantially more earmarking money.[7]

War funding increase sought

On September 26, 2007 Secretary of Defense Robert Gates asked the Congress for an additional $42.3 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq when speaking before the Senate Appropriations Committee. This request increased the administration’s 2008 war funding request to a yearly total of almost $190 billion, the largest single-year total for the wars so far. The request would increase war spending by almost 15 percent and would bring a total cost of over $800 billion since September 11, 2001. Several Senate Democrats expressed dismay at the consistently rising “emergency” war funding requests, calling them open-ended and habit-forming. Chairman Robert Byrd called the Iraq War “nefarious” and “infernal” saying that the Appropriations Committee would not rubber-stamp every request. Gates said that the additional money was necessary to pay for the continuation of the president’s troop buildup in Iraq and the purchase thousands of new mine resistant vehicles. The request was on top of $141.7 billion requested in February and an earlier request of $5.3 billion for the vehicles. Additionally, Gates urged Congress to approve the State Department’s requests for additional war funding on top of the $3.3 billion it had already requested.[8]


Previous committee membership

110th Congress (2007-08)

Members of the
Senate Committee on Appropriations,
110th Congress
Democrats: Republicans:


Subcommittee on Energy and Water

Members of the
Subcommittee on Energy and Water,
110th Congress
Democrats: Republicans:


109th Congress (2005-06)

Members of the
Senate Committee on Appropriations,
109th Congress
Democrats: Republicans:


Contact Details

URL: http://appropriations.senate.gov/

  • Majority staff office - (202) 224-7363
  • Minority staff office - (202) 224-7200

Articles and resources

See also

Sources

Wikipedia also has an article on Senate Committee on Appropriations. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.

  1. Elana Schor, "Schumer: Gonzales not fit to rule on Cheney’s role," The Hill, June 25, 2007.
  2. Elana Schor and Mike Soraghan, "Secrecy may cost Cheney, Dems warn," The Hill, June 26, 2007.
  3. John Stanton, "Approps Vows To Cut Earmarks", Roll Call, March 28, 2007.
  4. Seth Stern. "GOP Appropriators Keep Big Slice of Earmarks," CQ. July 11, 2007.
  5. Seth Stern. "GOP Appropriators Keep Big Slice of Earmarks," CQ. July 11, 2007.
  6. Manu Raju. "$7.5B earmarks unclaimed," The Hill. July 17, 2007.
  7. Manu Raju. "$7.5B earmarks unclaimed," The Hill. July 17, 2007.
  8. Josh White and Ann Scott Tyson, “Increase In War Funding Sought,” “The Washington Post,” September 27, 2007.

External resources

External articles

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