September for many Americans means football, apple-picking, and pumpkin-flavored everything. But on Capitol Hill, it’s time to create the budget for the new fiscal year. Committee members and staff in both the House and Senate are ready for the late nights and eleventh-hour negotiations to keep the government running; or they just pass a continuing resolution to buy more time. But who makes these decisions, and how did they get to the powerful Appropriations Committee? Leadership Connect analyzed the career history of House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations members to see where their experience prepared them for their role (or hasn’t).
Fifty-eight members of Congress sit on the mighty Committee on Appropriations on the House side, and they come from many fields of employment. Of these members, 13 have previously worked on similar committees in their state legislatures before joining the Appropriations Committee. Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-IA,1) was the Vice Chair of the Iowa House Appropriations Committee before her time on Capitol Hill. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ, 2) was also a member of the Arizona House Ways and Means Committee while still with that state legislature. Experience from other appropriations committees or budget experience in state legislatures helps new members get on these committees faster than other members. It also is an excellent look for both parties as they appoint specific people who can best represent their party’s budget goals on a committee level since these members have years of experience in a similar role.
Reps. Mark Amodei (R-NV, 2), Ben Cline (R-VA, 6), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY, 13), Grace Meng (D-NY, 6), John Moolenaar (R-MI, 4), Daniel Newhouse (R-WA, 4), Steve Palazzo (R-MS, 4), Mark Pocan (D-WI, 2), Norma Torres (D-CA. 35), David Valadao (R-CA, 21), and Bonnie Watson Coleman(D-NJ, 12) also bring their experience to the Appropriations Committee with previous work in their state legislatures. Rep. John Moolenaar and Rep. Ben Cline spent time as chairman in their respective state legislatures. Rep. Moolenaar was the majority vice chair on the Michigan Senate Committee on Appropriations from 2011 to 2014. Rep. Cline was vice chair of the Virginia House of Delegates Finance Committee from 2016 to 2018. While state legislature experience is an excellent way to gain experience and help decide which committees you will sit on when you arrive in Washington, other roles can help get a member on the committee.
Mind on the Money, Money on the Mind
A common pattern with the members of the House Appropriations Committee is their experience on other committees, especially the House Committee on the Budget. Sixteen House Committee on Appropriations members have been a part of the House Committee on the Budget. Rep. Steve Womack was chairman and ranking member of the Committee on the Budget between 2018 and 2021. He was also a member of the House Appropriations Committee from 2011, where his roles have often overlapped and helped him plan out where discretionary spending should be allocated. Other members who have experience with the House Budget Committee include Reps. Robert Aderholt (R-AL, 4), Ken Calvert (R-CA, 42), Ed Case (D-HI, 1), Tom Cole (R-OK, 4), Henry Cuellar (D-TX, 28), Rosa DeLauro, Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL, 25), Marcia Kaptur (D-OH, 9), Betty McCollum (DFL-MN, 4), John Moolenaar, Mark Pocan, Tim Ryan (D-OH, 13), Michael Simpson (R-ID, 2), Chris Stewart (R-UT, 2), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL, 23). Many of these members overlapped with their time on this Budget Committee and therefore have experience working and negotiating with these members. This is a bonus as members can use their previous experiences and successes with other members across the aisle to help pass budgets and prevent any shutdowns.
What does this all mean? With the 2022 midterm elections a few weeks away, there are plenty of opportunities for freshman members to join or strive to work on these power committees. We’ve seen a record number of retirements since 2020 election, leading the way for rising Congressional members to take some more committee assignments or leadership positions. Suppose a Congressional candidate has prior experience, in a specific industry or committee from their previous job. In that case, this is a fantastic way to market a candidate to get appointed to committees such as the House Budget or House Appropriations Committee. If a candidate does not have experience, it’s not a huge issue. There are many avenues to land a powerful role in Congress if you know how to play your cards right.