The House Appropriations Committee, Explained

Learn about the committee responsible for funding the federal government.
The House Appropriations Committee (Bill Koplitz/Public domain)

The House Appropriations Committee (Bill Koplitz/Public domain)

What Is The House Appropriations Committee?

Article I, Section 9, Clause 7 of the United States Constitution gives the “power of the purse” to Congress alone, meaning it is the duty of Congress to fund all areas of our government. Most of our federal agencies are funded by the House Appropriations Committee. This committee is often in the news concerning topics such as Trump’s controversial border wall and the Ukraine extortion scandal that ended with Trump’s impeachment in the House. The current Chairwoman is Nita M. Lowey (D-NY) and the Ranking Member is Kay Granger (R-TX).

The House Appropriations Committee includes twelve Subcommittees, sizable due to the complexities of keeping a large number of federal agencies funded:

  • Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, Chairman Sanford Bishop, Jr (D-GA).
  • Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, Chairman Jose Serrano (D-NY).
  • Defense, Chairman Pete Visclosky (D-IN).
  • Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies, Chairwoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH).
  • Financial Services and General Government, Chairman Mike Quigley (D-IL).
  • Homeland Security, Chairwoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA).
  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, Chair Betty McCollum (D-MN).
  • Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Services, Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT).
  • Legislative Branch, Chairman Tim Ryan (D-OH).
  • Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies, Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL).
  • State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY).
  • Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies, Chairman David E. Price (D-NC).

What Is The Appropriations Committee Responsible For?

The House Appropriations Committee has the broad duty to appropriate funding for most of our federal government. The rules of the Committee can be explained as the following:

  • Appropriate revenue for the support of the government
  • Cancel appropriations when required by appropriation Acts
  • Transfers of unexpected balances
  • Bills and joint resolutions from other committees that provide new entitlement authority

Who Is The Current Chairwoman?

Democratic Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey is the current Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee. She is the first woman to Chair this powerful committee. Though first elected as Chairwoman in January 2019, Lowey has championed educational opportunity, health care quality, biomedical research, environmental protection, national security, and more. Funding substantially increased in 2020 includes State Election Security Grants ($425 million increase), new CDC and NIH firearm injury research ($25 million), EPA ($208 million increase), and Head Start ($550 million increase), among others.

The Ranking Member is Republican Congresswoman Kay Granger (R-TX), who is the first and only woman to represent Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives. Granger recently voted no on the War Powers Resolution to limit Trump’s ability to pursue military action against Iran without Congressional approval.

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Who Are The Members Of The House Appropriations Committee?

There are currently 53 members on the House Appropriations Committee, made up of 30 Democrats and 23 Republicans.

Democratic Members

  • Nita M. Lowey, Chair (D-NY)
  • Marcy Kaptur (D-OH)
  • Peter J. Visclosky (D-IN)
  • Jose E. Serrano (D-NY)
  • Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT)
  • David E. Price (D-NC)
  • Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA)
  • Sanford D. Bishop (D-GA)
  • Barbara Lee (D-CA)
  • Betty McCollum (D-MN)
  • Tim Ryan (D-OH)
  • C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD)
  • Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)
  • Henry Cuellar (D-TX)
  • Chellie Pingree (D-ME)
  • Mike Quigley (D-IL)
  • Derek Kilmer (D-WA)
  • Matt Cartwright (D-PA)
  • Grace Meng (D-NY)
  • Mark Pocan (D-WI)
  • Katherine M. Clark (D-MA)
  • Pete Aquilar (D-CA)
  • Lois Frankel (D-FL)
  • Cheri Bustos (D-IL)
  • Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ)
  • Brenda L. Lawrence (D-MI)
  • Norma J. Torres (D-CA)
  • Charlie Crist (D-FL)
  • Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ)
  • Ed Case (D-HI)

Republican Members

  • Kay Granger, Ranking Member (R-TX)
  • Harold Rogers (R-KY)
  • Robert B. Aderholt (R-AL)
  • Michael K. Simpson (R-ID)
  • John R. Carter (R-TX)
  • Ken Calvert (R-CA)
  • Tom Cole (R-OK)
  • Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL)
  • Tom Graves (R-GA)
  • Steve Womack (R-AR)
  • Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE)
  • Charles J. “Chuck” Fleischmann (R-TN)
  • Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA)
  • David P. Joyce (R-OH)
  • Andy Harris (R-MD)
  • Martha Roby (R-AL)
  • Mark E. Amodei (R-NV)
  • Chris Stewart (R-UT)
  • Steven M. Palazzo (R-MS)
  • Dan Newhouse (R-WA)
  • John R. Moolenaar (R-MI)
  • John H. Rutherford (R-FL)
  • Will Hurd (R-TX)

History of the House Appropriations Committee

In 1789, the Committee of Ways and Means handled federal appropriations as well as its taxation legislation duties. In the 1860s, the large workload of the Ways and Means Committee was separated, and the appropriations responsibilities were transferred to the new House Appropriations Committee, which met for the first time in 1865. In the 1900s, war spending and depression-era spending coupled with the Great Society programs of the 1960s increased the federal spending power of the committee. The 1970s saw the creation of the Congressional Budget Office, which required an annual budget resolution to be passed to help reconcile spending with revenues.

In 1999, the committee also assumed oversight responsibilities for the US Post Office and for the civil service. It was renamed the Committee on Government Reform. In 2007 House Democrats changed the name to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and finally, in 2019 to its current name, the Committee on Oversight and Reform.

Past Chairs of the House Appropriations Committee:

  • Nita M. Lowey, Democrat - 2019 to Present
  • Rodney Frelinghuysen, Republican - 2017 to 2019
  • Hal Rogers, Republican - 2011 to 2017
  • David R. Obey, Democrat - 2007 to 2011
  • Jerry Lewis, Republican - 2005 to 2007
  • C.W. Bill Young, Republican - 1999 to 2005
  • Bob Livingston, Republican - 1995 to 1999
  • David R. Obey, Democrat - 1994 to 1995
  • William H. Natcher, Democrat - 1993 to 1994
  • Jamie L. Whitten, Democrat - 1979 to 1993
  • George H. Mahon, Democrat - 1964 to 1979
  • Clarence Cannon, Democrat - 1955 to 1964

The Rantt Rundown

The House Appropriations Committee is a powerful committee that controls the purse in Congress. It funds many of the agencies we depend on every day to keep us safe, healthy, and secure. This committee will continue to be in the news as it works to fund priorities in the 12 subcommittees throughout the year. Democrats have been in charge of the House Appropriations Committee since 2019.

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Rantt 101 // Congress