Ignoring the Congressional 11th Commandment — “Thou shalt not criticize the Appropriations Committee” — freshman Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) introduced a bill last week that would limit the number of terms lawmakers can serve on the powerful spending panel.
Franks, a staunch conservative, said he made the proposal out of “desperation” because he was “looking for some way to change the institutional momentum” away from ever-increasing government spending.
“We have a tendency to lose our zeal over time,” Franks said. “I try not to drink the water in Washington.”
Even with Republicans in control of the White House and both chambers of Congress, many conservatives still grumble that the GOP has not done nearly enough to curb federal spending and trim the size of government.
Under Franks’ plan, Members could sit on Appropriations for no more than three out of any five consecutive Congresses. Although he circulated a “Dear Colleague” letter last week seeking support for the measure, it had attracted just one co-sponsor as of Friday — Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).
Jim Dyer, the Appropriations majority staff director, reacted to Franks’ proposal with disdain.
“I don’t know where this came from, but it’s been greeted by my committee with wonderment,” he said. “I just think there’s a total disconnect here between anyone who thinks this committee has anything to do with the deficit and the reality of the situation.”
Floating this proposal may hurt Franks’ chances of ever serving on the spending panel, but the freshman said he doesn’t care.
“I have no desire to be on the Appropriations Committee,” he said.
Even if he doesn’t want a seat on the committee, Franks’ move could make Appropriations members a little less hospitable toward the Arizonan’s future spending requests.
“It might have some cute public relations value in the short haul, but I don’t know if it’s the smart thing to do in the long haul,” Dyer said.