Is there a more powerful job in Washington than being a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee? I mean, sure, the President can starve the Affordable Care Act of money, order the Department of Defense to give armored trucks and grenade launchers to small town police departments, order the termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which has helped nearly a million young undocumented immigrants find work in the U.S., and maybe launch 1,000 nuclear warheads and blow up the world. But those are all the negative actions of a strutting, soulless despot. For real positive power in Washington–the power to build and create and spend taxpayer dollars–the Senate Appropriations Committee members have it locked up.
For the last three years of his life, former U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, D–Hawaii, chaired the Senate Appropriations Committee. And today, his successor U.S. Senator Brian Schatz, D–Hawaii, is a member of the committee. By being on the panel that literally decides how tax dollars get spent, Schatz has enormous power to help his constituents. Which explains the two news releases I got last week.
On Aug. 31, Schatz said “the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will award $500,000 to the Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS) at the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UH) to improve forecasting of storm surges and high tide events in West Maui.”
The next day, Schatz sent out another news release saying that “the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will award $1,000,000 in federal funding to Maui Family Support Services (MFSS) to support the Quality Care for Hawaiian Keiki Project, which provides childcare subsidies to Native Hawaiian families.”
Not bad for two days’ work.
Photo of U.S. Capitol Building: Scrumshus/Wikimedia Commons