Washington – Rep. Rosa DeLauro on Thursday said she will run for one of the most powerful jobs in the next Congress — chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, a panel that is in charge of more than $1.3 trillion in federal spending.
DeLauro, D-3rd District, is currently an Appropriations subcommittee chairman, heading the panel that determines the budgets of the Labor Department, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Education Department.
But the announcement on Thursday that longtime New York Rep. Nita Lowey, 82, has decided to retire next year opens up the top job on the House Appropriations Committee. Lowey is the first woman to hold that powerful position.
In a statement, DeLauro, 76, called Lowey “a tireless advocate on a range of important issues, from health care and the environment—especially our states’ shared Long Island Sound—to after-school programs, public broadcasting, and the list goes on. Nita has never backed down from a fight.”
“Nita’s legacy will be lasting on the Congress—and she is not done yet,” DeLauro said. “I look forward to working with her through the end of her term, and I will be running for Chair of the Appropriations Committee in the next Congress.”
Lowey’s retirement announcement immediately touched off speculation about who would replace her as head of the Appropriations Committee. It’s not guaranteed that DeLauro – or any other Democrat –will get the position.
For a member of the party to hold that gavel, Democrats must keep their majority in the U.S. House in the next Congress, which will begin in January of 2021.
Also, other Democrats on the committee may challenge DeLauro for the job.
Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, who has more seniority than DeLauro on the panel, said Thursday evening she is “interested” in the position.
“Though it is far too early for the Democratic Caucus to begin considering successors to that position, I am interested in placing my name for consideration as the committee member with the most experience and seniority when the time is appropriate,” Kaptur said.
Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., has also served on the committee longer than DeLauro, but said he is not interested in the chairmanship of the full appropriations committee, preferring instead to remain as head of the subcommittee that decides the Pentagon’s budget.
Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., also has more seniority on the panel than DeLauro. But like Lowey, Serrano has announced he will not run for re-election.
However, Reps. Sanford Bishop of Georgia and David Price of North Carolina, who have less seniority than DeLauro on the Appropriations Committee, may also make a bid for the chairmanship.
In a statement, Price said that “when the time comes” he will speak with his colleagues about the leadership position.
DeLauro was the first Democrat Thursday to announce an interest in heading the Appropriations Committee.
The House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, headed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a DeLauro ally, determines committee assignments.
DeLauro has been co-chairman of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee since 2003, when she was first appointed to the job by Pelosi.