What loss of Ap­pro­pri­a­tions seat means for Va.

Daily Press - - Local News - By Jenna Port­noy The Wash­ing­ton Post

For the first time in more than a cen­tury, Vir­ginia will not have a mem­ber of Con­gress on the pow­er­ful House Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee, a blow that leaves the state without a rep­re­sen­ta­tive look­ing out for its spend­ing pri­or­i­ties.

Five of the 11-mem­ber del­e­ga­tion are newly elected, the big­gest turnover in decades. But that leaves them without the kind of se­nior­ity that helps se­cure seats on cov­eted com­mit­tees.

Ac­cord­ing to records on the com­mit­tee’s web­site, the last time the ap­pro­pri­a­tions panel was without some­one from the Old Do­min­ion was 1915, when Woodrow Wil­son was pres­i­dent and a quart of milk cost 9 cents.

Vir­ginia ap­pro­pri­a­tors from the more re­cent past used their clout to ar­range fund­ing for Metro, bridge and high­way im­prove­ments, de­fense projects, anti-gang ini­tia­tives, and even the Iraq Study Group.

But the re­tire­ments of se­nior mem­bers such as Repub­li­cans Bob Good­latte and Frank Wolf and Demo­crat Jim Mo­ran and the state’s shift­ing de­mo­graph­ics made room for new faces in the del­e­ga­tion.

That’s the trade off, said Steve Stombres, who was chief of staff to Eric Can­tor dur­ing Can­tor’s ten­ure as House ma­jor­ity leader and is now a con­sul­tant.

With turnover, “comes fresh en­ergy and new per­spec­tive and peo­ple who are very con­nected with their con­stituents and that’s the pos­i­tive side,” he said, “but the down side is you lose se­nior­ity and the abil­ity of mem­bers to look out for the needs of the com­mon­wealth.”

Aside from Ap­pro­pri­a­tions, Vir­ginia’s es­tab­lished mem­bers in the Demo­cratic ma­jor­ity will move up the ranks on high-pro­file com­mit­tees.

Rep. Robert “Bobby” Scott, the long­est-serv­ing mem­ber of the del­e­ga­tion from ei­ther party, is chair­man of the Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mit­tee.

Rep. Ger­ald Con­nolly ex­pects to be named chair­man of a sub­com­mit­tee within the Over­sight Com­mit­tee, which will in­ter­view Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s for­mer lawyer, Michael Co­hen, next month.

Rep. Don Beyer will be seated on the Ways and Means Com­mit­tee, end­ing Vir­ginia’s more than 20-year drought. The panel sets tax pol­icy and will play a role in any in­fra­struc­ture bill that ma­te­ri­al­izes.

Rep. Don­ald McEachin, who is in­ter­ested in en­vi­ron­men­tal jus­tice, will sit on the En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee.

Com­mit­tee as­sign­ments for the five fresh­men have not yet been de­ter­mined.

Of the Democrats, Rep. Jen­nifer Wex­ton of Loudoun County has said she would like to serve on the Trans­porta­tion or Sci­ence com­mit­tees. Her pre­de­ces­sor, Repub­li­can Bar­bara Com­stock, served on both.

Rep. Elaine Luria, a for­mer Naval com­man­der, is shoot­ing for Armed Ser­vices or Vet­er­ans’ Af­fairs com­mit­tees, and Rep. Abi­gail Span­berger tried for the Agri­cul­ture or In­tel­li­gence com­mit­tees.

Repub­li­can fresh­man Rep. Ben Cline wants Trans­porta­tion or Agri­cul­ture while Rep. Den­ver Rig­gle­man said his top pick is Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices.

The horse-trad­ing and ca­jol­ing to land a com­mit­tee as­sign­ment starts right after the elec­tion, aides said.

This year, Democrats con­sid­ered Vir­ginia part of the MidAt­lantic re­gion with the Dis­trict, Delaware, New Jer­sey and Mary­land, which meant Wex­ton had to com­pete with more sea­soned mem­bers from states with more Demo­cratic mem­bers.

In the end, the three-term Rep. Bon­nie Wat­son Cole­man, D-N.J., was nom­i­nated for the Ap­pro­pri­a­tions slot.

“Do you think some­body from New Jer­sey is go­ing to rep­re­sent the in­ter­ests of Vir­ginia?” said Wolf, a for­mer con­gress­man who rep­re­sented north­ern Vir­ginia for more than three decades and sat on Ap­pro­pri­a­tions for most of that time.

He used the com­mit­tee to fund the Baker-Hamil­ton Com­mis­sion to study the war in Iraq and se­cure money to com­bat the transna­tional gang MS-13, among other pri­or­i­ties.

“One of ad­van­tages of Ap­pro­pri­a­tions is I can pick up the paper in the morn­ing, go in and do some­thing about it,” he said. As a sub­com­mit­tee chair­man, he said, “you can get the cab­i­net sec­re­tary on the phone and say, ‘We got to move on this.’”

De­spite their dif­fer­ent party af­fil­i­a­tions, Wolf worked closely with Mo­ran, who also served on Ap­pro­pri­a­tions dur­ing the course of his 23 years rep­re­sent­ing North­ern Vir­ginia in Con­gress.

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