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Rogers Rejects New Oversight Panel for Appropriations

Incoming House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) does not plan to create a new oversight subcommittee and will instead leave the watchdog role to existing subcommittees, he said Wednesday.

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who will likely be a member of the Appropriations panel in the 112th Congress, has pushed Speaker-designate John Boehner (R-Ohio) for a new subcommittee that targets wasteful spending.

Rogers told reporters during a 5 p.m. conference call that he had spoken to Flake about the idea “as recently as an hour ago.”

“Oversight is going to be the mainstay of what I do,” Rogers said. “I want each of the 12 subcommittees to be vigorous in their oversight.” He added that he hopes to create temporary “random investigative panels” made up of committee members to review specific spending problems.

The House Republican Steering Committee selected Rogers for the post on Tuesday over Reps. Jerry Lewis (Calif.) and Jack Kingston (Ga.), and the House Republican Conference ratified his appointment Wednesday.

Rogers, who has been unapologetic about his work to secure federal dollars for his district over his 30-year House career, will take the helm of the Appropriations panel in the early stages of a transition away from its traditional role in doling out Congressional pork.

“I look forward to the challenge,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough chore.”

The Kentucky Republican responded to critics on the right who were upset he was chosen, given his reputation as a longtime supporter and user of earmarks.

“Practically all Members of Congress at one time or another” have asked for money for their districts, he said, but because of the “true fiscal crisis, we all have to turn our attention to the nation’s need and forgo earmarks.”

Last month, the House Republican Conference passed an earmark moratorium for the 112th Congress. “I support the moratorium, and I will enforce the moratorium,” Rogers said.

Asked how Members will procure needed funds for their districts if they can no longer do so through the House, Rogers said it will be lawmakers’ responsibility to alert the executive branch of their districts’ needs.

“Assumedly the executive branch agencies are staffed, funded and equipped so that Members want to point out [projects that are needed] to them,” he said. “We can still be advocates of our districts.”