Updated at 7:52 a.m. with Sen. Murray’s new subcommittee information:
WASHINGTON — The shrunken House Democratic Caucus on Tuesday voted to give a spot on the House Appropriations Committee to Rep. Derek Kilmer, a move that would give the sophomore lawmaker from Gig Harbor a more direct voice on federal spending decisions.
The vote by the 188-member caucus followed a recommendation by 51 members of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, which consists of a mix of the chamber’s elected leaders, key lawmakers and regionally-representative members.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi announced Kilmer’s proposed assignment Monday by saying:
“In his short time in the House, Congressman Derek Kilmer has proven himself to be a steadfast champion for working people and middle class families,” said Leader Pelosi. “On the Appropriations committee, we know Congressman Kilmer will be a strong voice for bigger wages, better infrastructure and greater opportunities for every American.”
Kilmer, 41, has serious economic-development chops. He was the key budget writer during part of his time in the Washington State Legislature. He previously worked for the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. as well as for the Economic Development Board of Tacoma-Pierce County. Kilmer has a bachelor’s degree in public policy from Princeton University and a doctorate in comparative social policy from the University of Oxford, in England.
Members of the Appropriations Committee help decide how to spend about 30 percent, or $1.1 trillion, of the federal budget that is not earmarked for Medicare, Social Security, food stamps and other mandatory programs.
Kilmer, in a statement after the caucus vote, said serving on the appropriation committee “will enable me to have more impact for our region – whether making investments that enable communities in our region to compete economically, to protect our natural resources like Puget Sound, or to support those who currently serve or previously served our nation in a military uniform.”
In exchange for the high-profile assignment, Kilmer will give up both his seats in the House Armed Services Committee and the Science, Space, and Technology Committee. Kilmer’s colleague, Rep. Adam Smith of Bellevue, was reelected to the ranking Democratic spot on the Armed Services Committee in November.
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, is the only other member from Washington serving in the House Appropriations Committee. The last House Democrat from Washington to serve on the committee was Rep. Norm Dicks, who retired in January 2013.
Sen. Patty Murray of Washington is a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and chairs the panel’s Subcommittee on
Transportation, House and Urban Developmen Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.