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Although earmark hawk Rep. Jeff Flake (R.-Ariz.) may be a long-shot for the spot, he’s is still in the running to be appointed to the House Appropriations Committee.
When Rep. Roger Wicker (R.-Miss.) left the House to fill Sen. Trent Lott’s empty Senate seat, he left an open seat on the powerful Appropriations Committee. Flake, a long time opponent of pork barrel spending, has aggressively campaigned for the position and has been loudly backed by movement conservatives. But for those very reasons many House Republicans are reluctant to put him on the committee.
Other Republicans running for the slot are Rep. Jo Bonner (Ala.), Rep. Henry Brown, Jr. (S.C.), Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.), Rep. Michael Turner (Ohio), Rep. Dave Reichert (Wash.) and Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (Colo.).
A coalition of conservative and taxpayer advocacy groups support Flake. They include Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Tax Reform, Citizens Against Government Waste, FreedomWorks, and RedState.
FreedomWorks has been running on online campaign called “Make It Flake” that sends letters over the internet to appropriate congressional staff that lobby to put Flake on the committee.
The 27-member House Republican Steering Committee is expected to hold a vote soon to decide who will be named to the committee.
The vote was originally scheduled to be held near the end of January, but was put off until after a Republican retreat in Greenbrier, West Virginia. There, Republicans debated holding themselves to a one-year moratorium on earmarks, but ultimately did not agree to it. Shortly after the retreat, House Republicans called a vote to challenge Democrats to a six-month moratorium on earmarks. It was defeated 204-196. All Republicans voted for the six-month moratorium. Only seven Democrats did. As a result, there has been no moratorium implemented, of any kind, on earmarks.