FRANKFORT — Kentucky’s clout in Washington grew Wednesday as Congressman Hal Rogers, R-Somerset, realized a long-time goal and was confirmed by the Republican conference as Chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. The House Republican Steering Committee recommended Rogers on Tuesday but the rank and file had to ratify the selection Wednesday.
“It is truly humbling to receive the confidence of my colleagues and I am ready to get to work so that together we can move our country forward,” Rogers said.
Rogers has been on the committee since 1983, chairing subcommittees and working his way up the seniority ladder with the goal of chairing the committee which controls federal spending priorities. He used his position to direct millions in federal funds to his impoverished Fifth Congressional District. Some critics dubbed Rogers a “Prince of Pork.” Rogers never apologized for his use of federal funds to finance anti-drug, environmental clean-up and economic development programs for the region.
But his timing might have been better in realizing his goal – Republicans regained control of the House largely by running against “runaway” spending and deficits and the new Republican majority – especially the large freshman class – demanded an end to earmarks, specified spending inserted into the federal budget by powerful congressmen like Rogers. Rogers signed on to a moratorium on earmarks, without which he probably would have been denied the chairmanship.
“We are facing unprecedented times and the American people are giving us a unique opportunity to start reining in government and getting our economy back on track,” Rogers said after Wednesday’s vote. “My Republican colleagues and I are listening and we will fight to rein in spending, implement rigorous oversight and work together to change the culture on Capitol Hill.”
Kentucky Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear said the choice of Rogers as Appropriations Chairman is good news for Kentucky. Beshear spoke with Rogers by phone Wednesday afternoon, congratulating him on his confirmation as chairman.