When the House convened last week, the new Republican majority immediately set out to deliver on a central tenet of its platform: cutting the size of the federal government. First on the chopping block was the House's budget.
While the estimated $35 million in savings sent the message that House Republicans were willing to start at home, the real challenge will come in reining in the behemoth budgets of the Administration.
Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA) was already in a prime spot for this David vs. Goliath fight. As a member of the powerful Appropriations Committee, he helps determine how tax dollars are spent. Now, Kingston's budget-cutting influence is on the rise as he was named a member of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee.
The panel accounts for almost a quarter of all federal outlays, and funds the administration of more grant dollars than the rest of the government combined. A seat on the panel also gives Kingston a more prominent role in some of the biggest debates in Washington. From funding for the controversial health care legislation enacted last year to unemployment insurance and administering entitlements like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, its jurisdiction is rife with much-debated issues.
"Health care, education and jobs are some of the most important issues to our everyday lives," said Kingston, "but they are also areas where the government's overreach is felt most. I will use this assignment to bring commonsense to government and the way it interacts with the people. As we prepare for the necessary reforms to face our budget reality, I hope to use my seat to bridge the past and the future and to prepare these agencies for change."
When combined with his perch atop the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee and his seat on the Defense Subcommittee which oversees the Pentagon, the new assignment gives Kingston oversight of the majority of the federal budget.
"November showed us that the American people understand our budget woes and are ready for Congress to make the tough cuts necessary," Kingston said. "These appointments will allow me to deliver on our promise to rein in government spending and change the way the federal government does business. I appreciate the confidence of my peers and look forward to the challenge."