Lowey Wins Race for Top House Democratic Appropriator

Posted December 4, 2012 at 4:14pm

Rep. Nita M. Lowey of New York will become the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee in the 113th Congress, beating out a colleague with more seniority in a vote Tuesday before the House Democratic Steering Committee.

Lowey, who will be the first women to hold the post, won the initial round of the contest over Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio. An aide said the vote was 36-10. Kaptur earlier on Tuesday told reporters that she and Lowey had a “gentleladies’ agreement” to abide by the decision of the steering committee and not contest the vote before the whole caucus.

She succeeds veteran appropriator Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., who is retiring at the end of the current Congress.

Going by seniority, Kaptur would have ascended to the top spot on the panel, which she has served on for 22 years. But she had a couple of limiting factors: She is a consistent opponent of expanding abortion rights and in the past has had a rocky relationship with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Lowey is third in seniority on the panel and fits more neatly into leadership, with her past tenure leading the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. She was also expected have the support of Pelosi.

Lowey also argued she has more leadership experience on Appropriations, having served as the chairwoman of the State-Foreign Operations panel in the 110th and 111th Congresses. While Kaptur had been a senior Democrat on the Agriculture Appropriations panel, she gave up her seniority there several years ago to switch to a more junior post on the Defense panel. In doing so, she gave up a chance at being a subcommittee chairwoman, or cardinal, when the Democrats held the House.

On the Republican side, Rep. Harold Rogers of Kentucky will return as chairman.