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Aderholt wants to delay vote for new Appropriations chair

Alabama Republican is seen as likeliest competitor to current front-runner, Rep. Tom Cole

Rep. Robert B. Aderholt, R-Ala., is seen after a House Republican Conference meeting at the Capitol Hill Club on July 19, 2022.
Rep. Robert B. Aderholt, R-Ala., is seen after a House Republican Conference meeting at the Capitol Hill Club on July 19, 2022. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans shouldn’t rush to pick a new Appropriations Committee leader until they have a fuller discussion about changing the process to avoid massive packages like the long-delayed $1.2 trillion measure enacted before the Easter recess, Rep. Robert B. Aderholt, R-Ala., said Wednesday. 

Aderholt, who is considering running against Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole for the job, in a Wednesday letter to fellow GOP lawmakers called for party leaders to delay a scheduled April 9 Steering Committee meeting to select the new chairman.

Currently the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee chairman, Aderholt is the full committee’s most senior Republican after Rep. Kay Granger of Texas, who is stepping down into a “chairwoman emeritus” role, and Rep. Harold Rogers of Kentucky, the panel’s former top Republican who already served a full six-year term.

In his letter, Aderholt did not say whether he will ultimately seek the full committee gavel, but he is the only member other than Cole, R-Okla., to indicate interest. Cole, the current Transportation-HUD subcommittee chairman, has secured backing from every other subcommittee cardinal besides Aderholt and Agriculture subcommittee chairman Andy Harris, R-Md., a member of the House Freedom Caucus. 

In calling for a delay of the vote, which many had seen as an anointment of Cole, Aderholt stressed that the current spending process is “fundamentally flawed” and that Republicans need to find a way to return to debating and passing individual appropriations bills in a timely fashion.

“Instead of hastily selecting a new Appropriations Chair, I believe that now is the time to focus on correcting the process and developing our theory of government on how we will manage our responsibilities,” Aderholt wrote. “Our Conference must work together to define a clear direction forward before choosing a Chairman to lead us there.”

While Cole — and a vast majority of the Republican Steering Committee — supported the final fiscal 2024 appropriations package last month, Aderholt voted against it. He highlighted earmarks that Senate Democrats had secured supporting the LGBTQ community and hospitals that perform abortions. 

“While I know that some have criticized my efforts in making some controversial provisions known to Members of our Conference, I believe it is my duty as a Cardinal — and Chairman of the [Labor-HHS-Education] Subcommittee — to make concerns within the conferenced version of my subcommittee’s bill known prior to consideration on the House Floor,” Aderholt wrote.  

Granger announced shortly after the House passage of that final package that she would be stepping away from the position. She had announced earlier that she would be retiring at the end of this Congress. 

Aderholt wrote that while Granger and Cole, the panel’s current vice chair, did an “admirable job” in navigating the fiscal 2024 process, changes are needed. 

“A change in the appropriations Committee Leadership, however, presents a perfect opportunity to change the process,” Aderholt wrote. “The bottom line? We cannot continue to go down the same path and expect a different outcome.”

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