UPDATE: Herrera Beutler picked for powerful spending committee

She will be the only House member from Washington to serve on the Appropriations Committee

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian assistant metro editor

Published:

Updated: November 30, 2012, 6:53 PM

 

U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, earned a spot on the influential House Appropriations Committee, which oversees federal discretionary spending, the congresswoman announced Friday.

Starting in January, she will be the only Washingtonian on the committee; current appropriations committeeman Norm Dicks, a Democrat from Bremerton, is retiring.

“I’m thrilled to be able to step up and advocate for our region’s interests,” Herrera Beutler said by phone on Friday. “I feel fortunate.”

House rules require Herrera Beutler to leave her positions on the House’s transportation and small business committees because representatives on the Appropriations Committee must serve there exclusively, her spokesman, Casey Bowman, said.

The congresswoman said she sees the nomination, in part, as a chance to be involved in the Columbia River Crossing project as it enters its next phase.

“There are pathways now authorized by which we can fund major transportation projects nationwide, including this one,” she said.

The $3.5 billion megaproject to replace the Interstate 5 Bridge has yet to secure necessary funding. Herrera Beutler recently announced that she wants to see the bridge project redesigned to exclude light rail, which is seen by CRC proponents as a crucial part of getting a key federal grant.

Subcommittees

Herrera Beutler has yet to receive appointments to any of the Appropriations Committee’s 12 subcommittees, which include transportation, energy, defense and health care. Much like her bid to land on the coveted federal spending committee, the process of securing her favorite subcommittees will be competitive.

She said she is still researching which subcommittees would benefit Southwest Washington the most. She also noted that she’ll ultimately have a say in all areas of discretionary spending simply by being on the Appropriations Committee.

She said her overall goals on the committee will include curbing government excess, making sure Southwest Washington’s priorities get the money they need, and, “I’d like to see the process function,” she said. “You know how Washington, D.C., is working right now — or not working.”

Lawmakers in Congress must come together and figure out a budget plan, she said.

Herrera Beutler, 34, will be just one of a few first- and second-term lawmakers on the 50-person committee.

“I think it’s good,” Herrera Beutler said. “I think they actually need newer members on the committee because it adds to perspective.”

The House’s Republican steering committee nominated Herrera Beutler and six other Republicans to seats on the Appropriations Committee on Thursday evening. The nominations are expected to be finalized in a vote by the House Republican Conference, Herrera Beutler’s spokesman, Bowman said.

In the other chamber, Washington is represented on the Senate Appropriations Committee by Democrat Patty Murray, who also chairs its transportation subcommittee.


Stevie Mathieu: 360-735-4523; http://facebook.com/reportermathieu; http://twitter.com/col_politics; stevie.mathieu@columbian.com.