Congressman Jerry Lewis was named Chairman Emeritus of the House Appropriations Committee Friday, and has agreed to serve as a senior member of five subcommittees that oversee most of the federal government's $1.4 trillion in annual discretionary spending.
"I am honored to be able to play a central role in our efforts to significantly reduce the runaway federal spending that has led us to $1 trillion deficits," said Lewis, who was the ranking Republican member of the committee the past four years. "Every appropriations subcommittee will be seeking ways to save money for the taxpayers, and I intend to be on the front lines of this battle to reduce the growth of government."
Lewis has served on the Appropriations Committee for nearly all of his career in Congress. He was full committee chairman in 2005 and 2006, and has served as chairman of the subcommittee that oversees the Defense Department and the subcommittee that controls spending for the Veterans Administration, federal housing programs and science and technology programs.
As Chairman Emeritus, Lewis will serve as the senior Republican, second to the chairman of each subcommittee. He is the only member of the committee to have such a senior role on five subcommittees, besides the Full Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, who is an ex officio member of all 12 appropriations subcommittees.
Lewis will continue his long service on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees the $652 billion Pentagon spending budget. He has been a strong backer of the nation's military throughout his career, and has made a commitment to support the Inland Empire's vital military installations, especially the Army's National Training Center at Fort Irwin and the Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms.
He will also serve as a senior member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, which is responsible for $235 billion spent on a programs ranging from health care to education. This subcommittee is expected to have a lead role in the debate over funding for implementation of President Obama's health care reform program, which Lewis strongly opposed.
Two of his subcommittees are charged with overseeing the nation's natural resources: the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, the Environment and Related Agencies. The latter subcommittee includes funding for the Environmental Protection Agency, which Lewis criticized last year for over-stepping its authority in regulating greenhouse gasses.
His fifth assignment is the Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees the budget for the State Department and other international programs. Congressman Lewis has had a strong interest in foreign policy and America's role in the world since he served as a student ambassador as part of the Project India program while he was attending UCLA.