U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Versailles, has lost his seat on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, at least for the foreseeable future in the 112th Congress.
On Friday, Chandler said he was squeezed off the committee — which decides all federal spending — when Republicans took over the House this week and claimed the majority of seats on the panel. Congressional committees reflect the makeup of their respective chambers when it comes to party lines.
"I was No. 25 in seniority out of the 37 Democrats, so I was probably going to make the cut when they redid it," Chandler said. "Then (House Speaker John) Boehner decided to downsize the committee from 60 to 50 members. So everyone got fewer seats. You can see how that panned out."
Chandler said he will keep his committee seniority and should be able to return in the future, if he chooses, as the Democrats get more openings. He expects to get his new committee assignments next week from House Democratic leadership.
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Chandler was re-elected to a fifth term in November in a tight race over Republican lawyer Andy Barr of Lexington. He represents Central Kentucky's 6th Congressional District.
Another Kentuckian, U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Somerset, this week became chairman of the House Appropriations Committee following many years on the panel — and billions of dollars in federal spending Rogers steered to his district. But that sort of benefit may be coming to an end, Chandler said.
"Frankly, it's not the worst Congress to lose it (an appropriations seat) because we're going to spend most of our time cutting budgets," Chandler said.