Quick Takes

Alabama’s Aderholt eyes bid for U.S. House Appropriations chairmanship

By: - November 1, 2023 2:53 pm

U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996. (U.S. House of Representatives)

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt of Alabama, a Republican who previously sought the powerful House Appropriations Committee chairmanship, plans to speak with newly elected Speaker Mike Johnson of Louisiana soon to gauge his support for a fellow Southerner seeking the gavel.

Current Appropriations Chair Kay Granger, a Texas Republican, announced Wednesday she would retire at the end of this Congress. That started off what will likely be a competitive campaign among senior appropriators to seek the role of top Republican on the panel.

A House Republican aide, speaking on background to discuss the congressman’s deliberations, told States Newsroom on Wednesday that while Aderholt is still deciding whether to launch a campaign for the spot, the race would be a “new ballgame” under Johnson’s leadership.

Aderholt will determine after talking with Johnson where he could be “most helpful,” according to the aide.

Aderhold is interested in changing how the U.S. House handles the often delayed annual appropriations process to get back to a model where appropriators work with authorizers throughout the year, the aide said.

While appropriators control federal spending, several authorizing committees are supposed to set policy and reauthorize federal departments and agencies. But that doesn’t always happen, leading the spending panel to fund several programs that aren’t authorized.

It can also push off policy decisions to the Appropriations Committee.

If Republicans maintain the majority following the 2024 elections, they would hold the chairmanship of Appropriations. If Republicans lose the House during those elections, the top Republican would become the ranking member, which is still a highly influential position.

The last time there was a vacancy at the top of the GOP roster in 2018, five lawmakers sought the role that Granger eventually secured. 

Aderholt was one of those Republicans, along with Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho and former Rep. Tom Graves of Georgia.

Alabama is no stranger to having an Appropriations chairman in its congressional delegation. Former U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, who retired at the end of the last Congress, held the top Republican role for several years, serving as chairman during the Republican majority and ranking member when the GOP was in the minority.

Aderholt was first elected to Congress in 1996 and has since risen in seniority, including on the Appropriations Committee, which determines how the federal government spends more than $1.7 trillion in discretionary funding annually.

The committee includes a dozen subcommittees, which are each tasked with drafting one of the annual government funding bills. Aderholt currently chairs the panel that sets funding levels and policy for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.

The subcommittee also controls the annual budgets for several smaller federal agencies, including the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Medicare Payment Advisory Commission and the National Labor Relations Board.

House Republicans’ Labor-HHS-Education spending bill for fiscal 2024 includes $147 billion in spending, more than $60 billion less than current funding levels, according to a Republican summary of the bill.

Aderholt was born in July 1965 in Winston County, Alabama.

He received his undergraduate degree from Birmingham-Southern College in 1987 before attending Cumberland School of Law at Samford University. He began his career in private practice in Haleyville, Alabama before becoming a municipal judge from 1992 through 1995.

He worked as assistant legal adviser for former Gov. Fob James from 1995 to 1996 before being sworn in as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in January 1997.

Aderholt represents Alabama’s 4th Congressional District, including Shoals, Cullman, Gadsden and Jasper.

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Jennifer Shutt
Jennifer Shutt

Jennifer covers the nation’s capital as a senior reporter for States Newsroom. Her coverage areas include congressional policy, politics and legal challenges with a focus on health care, unemployment, housing and aid to families.