It wasn’t such a longshot, after all.
Rep.-elect Steve Womack, R-Rogers, was placed on the powerful U.S. House Appropriations Committee during Thursday’s process to make assignments to the five A committees for the 112th Congress, according to this report from our content partner, The City Wire.
The other A committees are Ways and Means, Financial Services, Rules, and Energy and Commerce.
During a Dec. 3 address in Fort Smith, Womack said he wanted on the Appropriations committee to help “shrink government and cut spending.” Typically, freshmen members of the U.S. House are assigned to B committees and move up to A committees after being re-elected and gaining seniority in the House.
“Is it a long shot? Yes, it is,” Womack told the Fort Smith crowd.
The long shot became reality, with Womack telling The City Wire he was notified about 5 p.m. during a return trip from a town hall meeting in Russellville that he had made the Appropriations Committee.
“I couldn’t be happier. I just couldn’t be happier. It’s exactly what we asked for,” Womack said. “And it’s an honor. It’s one of the most powerful committees in Congress, and now a freshman from the 3rd District of Arkansas is going to have a seat on a committee that was once reserved for the more veteran, rank and file members.”
Reps-elect. Kevin Yoder, R-Kan., and Alan Nunnelee, R-Miss., were the only other freshmen Republican placed on the committee. Also, the committee will shrink from 60 to 50 members.
Womack said he had several “fortuitous” meetings with Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., who will be chairman of the Appropriations Committee, and Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., who encouraged him to lobby for the Appropriations Committee. Also, Womack said he received support from Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., who will be the Majority Leader in the 112th Congress, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who has become famous for his “cut-as-you-go” alternative to the previous “pay-as-you-go” approach to the federal budget.
“All this time, they were really giving me encouragement, but I was thinking that they were just being nice, that maybe they really didn’t mean this,” Womack said. “And others would say, ‘There will be some freshmen on the A committees, but don’t get your hopes up.’”
Womack said Incoming Chairman Rogers told him he wanted members on the committee who could make tough decisions and who had the “political capital” to survive making the tough decisions. Womack won the 3rd District, which has been solidly Republican since 1967, with 72% of the vote.
The Appropriations Committee is responsible to set the budgets for all federal agencies, departments and military services. According to the committee website, it has “broad responsibility over the Federal budget.”
As such, it is expected to be a contentious committee, where Democrats and liberal and conservative interest groups will watch to see if Republicans will hold to their midterm election promises to cut the deficit and the size of government.
Womack said he is ready for that fight.
“We’re in a different climate now. I don’t think it’s business as usual. Especially with the GOP. … You don’t run for Congress right now and expect some kind of gravy train or walk in the park. This is going to be stressful. It’s going to be ugly at times. It will be unpleasant. But the voters told us just a few weeks ago, and I thought it was loud and clear, to get the country on the right track and protect it for future generations,” Womack said.