Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Scandals Continue to Hurt House Republicans

In this case, it looks like outgoing Appropriations Committee chairman Jerry Lewis might be the next casualty. Roll Call reports:

Lewis’ Top Approps Spot May Be Threatened
November 14, 2006
By Ben Pershing,
Roll Call Staff

As the House GOP grapples with a half-dozen leadership races on the ballot Friday, a similarly important decision awaits the Republican Conference next month: whether to keep Rep. Jerry Lewis (Calif.) as the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee.

Lewis is not facing term limits in his position, and normally a chairman would have no trouble moving smoothly into a ranking member slot. But a combination of circumstances — most notably the ongoing federal investigation of Lewis and some remaining hurt feelings from this year’s earmark reform debate — have made Lewis’ path into the ranking member post less smooth.

“I think he’s out,” predicted a senior GOP leadership aide...

The Justice Department currently is probing Lewis’ relationship with ex-Rep. Bill Lowery (R-Calif.) and his now-defunct lobbying firm, Copeland Lowery Jacquez Denton & White. The firm had a lucrative business obtaining earmarks from Lewis for defense clients and for towns in the Californian’s district. The investigation is an outgrowth of the probe that brought down jailed ex-Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-Calif.)...

Given that the GOP just lost its majority based at least in part on voters’ distaste for Congressional scandals — particularly the Cunningham story and the Jack Abramoff affair, both of which centered on earmarks — some Republican leadership sources said they thought the Conference would want to create a clean slate by removing a potential magnet for negative publicity from such a prominent slot...

If Lewis is pushed out, he has no obvious successor. Former Appropriations Chairman Bill Young (R-Fla.) would not be barred by Conference term-limit rules from returning as ranking member. Below Young on the panel roster are GOP Reps. Ralph Regula (Ohio) and Hal Rogers (Ky.), both of whom were defeated by Lewis for the chairmanship in 2005...

If Lewis is pushed aside, it's unclear to me that this will have any effect on efforts to reform the appropriations process. No appropriations committee chairman will be an enthusiastic reformer, and the senior Republican will not be the chairman in any case.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good. He still needs to go.