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House Appropriations Cardinal Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) announced Monday his panel will begin budget hearings this week, nearly two months after he scrapped the entire legislative branch schedule over the agencies’ spending requests.

[IMGCAP(1)]The Georgia lawmaker, who chairs the subcommittee on the legislative branch, plans “to give the agencies one more chance to submit more economical and reasonable proposals,” said spokeswoman Jennifer Hing.

Legislative branch agencies are seeking a combined $4.4 billion, a 12-percent increase over fiscal 2004 levels. Kingston will aim to hold the agencies to a zero percent increase, Hing said.

The panel will hold three hearings for the agencies, beginning Thursday, and a fourth hearing is likely to focus solely on the Capitol Visitor Center.

Help Wanted. The Smithsonian last week announced the nine members of the selection committee responsible for conducting a nationwide search for the director of the planned National Museum of African American History and Culture.

In addition to the panel’s chairwoman Sheila Burke, deputy secretary and chief operating officer of the Smithsonian, the committee will include James Early, director of cultural heritage policy at the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and acting director of the Anacostia Museum and Center for African American History and Culture; museum consultant Deborah Mack; Smithsonian Board of Regents member and Morehouse College President Walter Massey; Harvard University Law School associate dean and professor Charles Ogletree; Rodney Slater, former secretary of Transportation and Patton Boggs LLP partner; Howard University President H. Patrick Swygert; ex-Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.); Anthony Welters, CEO of AmeriChoice Corp.; and National Museum of the American Indian Director W. Richard West.

The committee is expected to convene its inaugural meeting within the next two months, with the intent of making a recommendation on the director by the end of the year.

Legislation authorizing the new Smithsonian museum was signed into law by President Bush in December 2003.

— Jennifer Yachnin and Bree Hocking