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Who Gets the Legislative Branch Appropriations Gavel? | Campus Notebook

When the resignation of Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La., takes effect Sept. 26, he vacates a spot as an Appropriations cardinal.

House Republicans have not announced who will take the gavel of the Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee, which controls the purse strings of member, committee and leadership offices, the Capitol Police and other congressional support agencies. It’s a plum spot for Republicans, who since 2011 have used the bill as an opportunity to cut spending in-house.

The fiscal 2014 version of the panel’s spending bill includes a 17 percent reduction to House office budgets, “showing that we can live within the same financial boundaries facing every agency of the federal government and every family in the country,” said Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., during a July 18 markup of the bill.

When Alexander announced his departure in an Aug. 7 statement, citing frustration with “legislative standstill,” the committee’s $3.2 billion package — the smallest of the 12 spending bills — had not been brought to the floor.

Rules adopted on Nov. 15, 2012, by the House Republican Conference task Rogers with choosing Alexander’s replacement. Rogers must then submit his nomination to the GOP Steering Committee. Appropriations Committee spokeswoman Jennifer Hing directed questions to House leaders about who will be tapped for the cardinal seat and how quickly lawmakers are moving to fill the vacancy.

Michael Steel, a spokesman for Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, said Thursday that the Steering Committee had not begun considering who would fill Alexander’s spot. Republican Conference rules suggest filling vacant standing committee chairman slots within 30 days while Congress is in session, but there is no such rule of thumb for subcommittee chairmen.

House Republicans traditionally go by seniority on the Appropriations Committee to fill cardinal spots, putting Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., first in line for the spot.

Calvert’s May 2007 appointment to the panel drew criticism from Democrats, who alleged that he had used earmarks to his personal benefit. Calvert’s office declined to comment on whether he expects to hold the gavel. Calvert is also one of three GOP appropriators who are on the Budget Committee.

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved its $2.978 billion version of the Legislative Branch spending bill on July 11. It has not received a floor vote in that chamber.

Kerry Young contributed to this report.