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Published: Thursday, 1/17/2013

Kaptur to lead energy, water subcommitte; energy independence deemed vital to Great Lakes region

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Elected continuously since 1982, leading a water and energy subcommittee is Marcy Kaptur's first leadership post. Elected continuously since 1982, leading a water and energy subcommittee is Marcy Kaptur's first leadership post.
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U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) said Wednesday her new leadership post will allow her to push for water quality and energy independence, two issues of concern for the 9th Congressional District.

Knocked out of contention for the more powerful post of top-ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee last month, Miss Kaptur on Tuesday night won a vote of her Democratic caucus to be ranking Democrat on the Energy and Water Subcommittee of Appropriations.

“It fits our district like a glove,” Miss Kaptur said. She said the committee will oversee federal expenditures on energy-related research and Army Corps of Engineers projects.

“We have all the Corps of Engineers national projects and the continuing issue of Great Lakes dredging, which becomes more important every year because of falling lake levels due to climate change,” she said.

As ranking Democrat, Miss Kaptur will be the conduit and representative for the Democratic caucus’ position on spending bills under the committee’s jurisdiction. In June, the Republican-controlled subcommittee approved a budget of $32.1 billion for its agencies, $87.5 million more than the previous year but about $1 billion less than President Obama had sought. The bill passed on a party-line vote with minority Democrats in opposition, and died in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

In addition to the Department of Energy and Army Corps of Engineers, the committee’s agencies include the Bureau of Reclamation, Central Utah Project, Appalachian Regional Commission, Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, Delta Regional Authority Denali Commission, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board, and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The appointment came about through a complicated process in which members bid on committee spots. Miss Kaptur moved up in seniority on the subcommittee when two congressmen with higher seniority bid on seats in other subcommittees.

“There was an opening and based on my seniority, I was able to claim it,” Miss Kaptur said.

Elected continuously since 1982, it is her first leadership post.

Miss Kaptur said she had to give up her seniority in the subcommittees on transportation/housing and agriculture, but kept her position on the subcommittee on defense appropriations and also claimed a seat on the financial services subcommittee.

As ranking member, Miss Kaptur will oversee two additional staff members and a separate office for the subcommittee in the Rayburn Building. She said she told the staff she wants a map of the United States showing where every dollar under the committee’s jurisdiction is spent to make sure the Midwest gets its share of funding.

One of Miss Kaptur’s interests is in examining how much federal money is spent to subsidize irrigation in the dry Southwest.

“It’s important for the Great Lakes states to have a foothold there because money gets taken to other parts of the country,” Miss Kaptur said.

She said she would support spending on research aimed at energy independence.

Contact Tom Troy at: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.



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