Somerset’s own Congress-man Harold “Hal” Rogers became one of the nation’s most influential individuals this past week when he was named head of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee.It’s not a responsibility that he takes lightly.
“Obviously I’m very hum-bled by the trust in my leadership by my colleagues,” Rogers told the Common-wealth Journal in an exclusive interview. “I’m thrilled by the opportunity and challenged by the road ahead of us. It will be a tough, tough job.”The “job” is to decide how much money scores of federal programs receive in order to operate. The Appropriations Comm-ittee manages over $1 trillion in non-entitlement federal funds each year and has the power to cut some pretty prominent pursestrings by deciding who (or what) gets how much money via allocation.
“The Appropriations Committee is the chief overseer of (federal) agencies,” said Rogers. “When those agencies come before the committee, we will (consider) every dollar and make them justify every expenditure.”
Perhaps the most controversial among those is President Oba-ma’s oft-debated health care plan. Republicans have condemned the plan as costly and irres-ponsible, with hundreds of billions of dollars at stake, and Rogers has been as vocal an opponent as any.
One means of com-bating “ObamaCare” as it’s often called would be simply deny it funding. The Appropriations Com-mittee would have the ability to do this, freezing the program out of spending bills.
When asked if this was an approach Rogers was looking at taking, the Congressman quickly and eagerly replied in the affirmative.
“Absolutely, that’s a goal,” said Rogers. “We would hopefully just simply not fund the pieces of the law that require funding.”
For example, explained Rogers, “several thous-and” new IRS agents would be requested to discipline and run the system, “which would amount to several billions of dollars,” he said. “We hope to not fund that, among other things.”
Likewise, Rogers point-ed to the regulations that the Department of Health and Human Services would issue to run the health care program. “If we don’t fund it, they can’t write the regulations.”
Rogers is also targeting the Environmental Pro-tection Agency (EPA), specifically for actions that have affected Rogers’ Fifth District constituents on coal-mining country.
“I want to try to rein in the EPA and the over-extension of their auth-ority,” he said. “They’re issuing regulations with-out Congressional app-roval... (and have) practically shut down issuances for permits to coal mines. If this continues, it could shut down Kentucky’s coal mining industry, with thousands of jobs lost. That would be a major impact.”
Because the EPA spends taxpayer dollars, “every penny” has to be appropriated, noted Rogers. He hopes to lessen the organization’s power and “get it under control — it’s gone awry.”