HARTFORD, Conn. — U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a close ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is lining up support for a bid to lead the powerful Appropriations Committee, a position that could bring significant federal aid to Connecticut.
The 15-term Democrat from New Haven is facing Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, the controversial former head of the Democratic National Committee, and Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, the longest serving woman in the U.S. House.
A vote is expected in early December, but John Larson predicted DeLauro's diverse coalition will sweep her to victory. She has been endorsed by colleagues across the political spectrum, from Jim Himes of Connecticut, a moderate Democrat, to Pramila Jayapal of Washington, the co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus.
"Rosa's going to win this thing based on 25 years of work on that committee," said Larson, a Democrat from East Hartford and one of more than 40 House members whipping votes for DeLauro.
The Appropriations Committee has one of the broadest jurisdictions of any congressional committee, overseeing nearly every aspect of government spending.
Having a member of the state's delegation leading such a key committee could be a boon for Connecticut.
"Appropriations does the real blocking and tackling of dollars," said Joe Courtney, a Democrat from Vernon, "so I do think it's a big deal for the state."
DeLauro has "a burning passion" for issues such as nutrition programs, early childhood education and paid family leave, Courtney said. "Her track record and involvement in these issues goes back to the '80s," he said. "Those are priorities that don't have the phalanx of lobbyists that other priorities have."
Max Reiss, spokesman for Gov. Ned Lamont, said DeLauro is the right person for the moment. "Rep. DeLauro has always been a fighter in Congress on behalf of all the citizens of Connecticut," he said. "If her colleagues in Congress have the good sense to select her as chair, working families across the country will have a true champion ensuring that that their voices are heard over the special interests and that they have a seat at the table as we all work together with President-elect Biden and his administration to build back better from this pandemic."
DeLauro, who represents the 3rd District, would be the first person from Connecticut to hold the gavel on the Appropriations Committee.
"I view this position as an extension of my work for the people of Connecticut's 3rd District," DeLauro said. "This position allows me to increase investments in the critical, lifesaving research happening throughout Connecticut, ensure federal defense spending creates and sustains jobs in our state, and federal dollars go to programs that will make a difference in our health and our environment."
DeLauro cited the creation of "new green jobs" and investments in education and childcare as several of the areas she would focus on.
"Leading the committee that originates and creates federal spending legislation would mean the needs of people of Connecticut would help guide spending legislation," she said. "The hardworking people of Connecticut wouldn't find ourselves left out or ignored."
If DeLauro succeeds in her run as Appropriations chairwoman, it would mark another powerful position for a House member from New England. Earlier this week, Katherine Clark, a Democrat from Massachusetts, was chosen as assistant speaker, making her the fourth highest ranking Democrat in Congress.
James McGovern of Worcester, Massachusetts, leads the Rules Committee and Richard Neal of Springfield, Massachusetts, is chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.
"To have senior leadership from the region is an extraordinary thing for Connecticut and for (New England) in general," Larson said. "It's certainly good news for Gov. Lamont."
A list put out by DeLauro's office contained the names of more than 40 colleagues who are leading the effort to whip support for her bid. Every member of Connecticut's House delegation was on it except for Rep. Jahana Hayes, a Democrat representing the 5th District.(c)2020 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC