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Twenty-eight Republican House lawmakers signed a letter last week lauding as “courageous” a move by Appropriations cardinal Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) to cancel legislative branch budget hearings.

“We are writing to thank you for your courageous action recently in canceling Subcommittee hearings on the Legislative branch appropriations bill,” states the letter, initiated by Rep. Joe Pitts (Pa.). “During this era of ever-increasing federal budgets, it took courage to tell the legislative agencies that their spending requests were outrageous. Your actions demonstrate the type of leadership we need at a time like this.”

The letter is signed by Reps. Robert Aderholt (Ala.), Roscoe Bartlett (Md.), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Kevin Brady (Texas), Steve Chabot (Ohio), Chris Chocola (Ind.), John Culberson (Texas), Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla.), Tom Feeney (Fla.), Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Phil Gingrey (Ga.), Virgil Goode (Va.), Gil Gutknecht (Minn.), Melissa Hart (Pa.), Wally Herger (Calif.), Peter Hoekstra (Mich.), Ernest Istook (Okla.), Walter Jones Jr. (N.C.), John Kline (Minn.), Ron Lewis (Ky.), Sue Myrick (N.C.), Mike Pence (Ind.), Paul Ryan (Wis.), Jim Ryun (Kan.), Nick Smith (Mich.), Tom Tancredo (Colo.) and Joe Wilson (S.C.).

Kingston, who halted the first round of budget hearings for legislative branch agencies in late February, has not made a decision on when, or if, to reschedule the hearings.

In the meantime, the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the legislative branch has held hearings for the Congressional Budget Office, General Accounting Office, Government Printing Office and Library of Congress.

Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.), the subcommittee’s chairman, has instructed all legislative agencies to consider the possibility that spending levels will be frozen at fiscal 2004 levels.

Resources Move. Following Rep. Scott McInnis’ (R-Colo.) decision to relinquish the gavel, Resource Chairman Richard Pombo (R-Calif.) has named Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) the new chairman of the subcommittee on forests and forest health.

McInnis, who will retire at the end of the 108th Congress, said in a statement that he felt now was the right time to step down from his chairmanship to ensure a smooth transition.

“As I announced to my constituents in Colorado last week, the time has come for me to begin the transition of coming home. It’s time to pass the torch on, and I cannot think of a better or more qualified member to chair the forests subcommittee than my good friend, Greg Walden,” McInnis said.

Walden, a co-author of the Healthy Forests Restoration Act whose 2nd district is home to 11 national forests, assumed his new chairmanship duties Monday afternoon.

—Jennifer Yachnin and John McArdle

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