Today’s episode features Congressman Robert Aderholt of Haleyville. Mr. Aderholt represents Alabama’s 4th Congressional District and was first elected in 1996. That makes him the Dean of Alabama’s House delegation, and he has used those 22 years in office to build valuable seniority, particularly on the Appropriations Committee.
In Congress, members kind of specialize in different roles. Some are Hill Climbers, who take each step trying to be in leadership, whether it’s to be Whip, Majority Leader or the Speaker of the House. Some are bomb throwers, the kind that you see on TV all the time taking shots at the other side and trying to win the political game day to day. There are also lawmakers, who grind it out amid the various authorizing committees like Judiciary, Labor, Energy and Commerce, and Ways and Means attempting to actually make and amend law piece by piece. And then there are the appropriators, who spend each year crafting the twelve different spending bills that fund our government. Congressman Aderholt is an appropriator, and he’s been one since day one in Congress. That’s rare because usually it takes someone several terms to earn a spot on Appropriations.
Those can be sought after positions. After all, Congress’ main responsibility is to fund the government. If you’re one of the select few that draws up those spending proposals, that can win you a lot of friends and influence.
I asked Mr. Aderholt about his time on Appropriations and how he goes about the process of determining priorities. You’ll hear him talk about earmarks and how that process has changed. Just to explain, earmarks are the term used to describe budget line items set aside by an individual lawmaker for an individual purpose. So, if I’m the Congressman from Montgomery and I want $20 million for a bridge, I could put it in the Appropriations bill and that would be called an earmark for me. Only, that’s not how it works anymore. Over the years the system got abused and led to instances of serious corruption. So when John Boehner became Speaker in 2011, he banned the use of earmarking. But as you’ll hear Mr. Aderholt say, there is a lot of talk about bringing a reformed process back because, otherwise, Congress is really just ceding control of the pursestrings to the Executive Branch.
Other than appropriations, we talked about trade and tariffs, and his relationship with President Trump. Mr. Aderholt has also long been involved with the Congressional Prayer Caucus, and he discussed his work with this bi-partisan group in a lot of detail.
Here’s our conversation. I hope you enjoy it.
Listen on iTunes HERE: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/in-the-weeds-with-alabama-daily-news/id1452719810