Mark Trahant: Everyone still interested in the money

"A generation ago constituents were clear in their demands from elected representatives: Bring home the bacon. The Seattle P-I, like most newspapers of that era, was pleased when Sens. Warren G. Magnuson and Henry M. Jackson delivered our "share" of federal appropriations.

The same could be said for Rep. Julia Butler Hansen. The Washington Democrat was the first woman to chair an appropriations subcommittee in 1967 after serving four years on the committee. "Member-to-member pressure is much greater on appropriations than on the authorizing committee," she said in an oral history. "Authorizing legislation is more technical and only a few people get interested in it. But when you get to the money, every member is interested."

Everyone is still interested.

One story Hansen told was about pressure from the Appropriations Committee chairman to trim a spending bill. She replied: "I represent all the states west of the Dakotas, and that's a pretty big piece of real estate." Nice try, but she was still told to shrink the number.

"I went home and thought it over and worked like fury to take some money out of the bill, and I found five projects I could cut," she said. One of those projects was in the chairman's district. The next day he called her up and said, "What do you mean cutting this project?"

She stuck to her guns and said it was the only way to reach the total dollar amount the chairman requested. She prevailed."

Get the Story:
Balancing national interest, local demand (The Seattle Post-Intelligencer 9/16)

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