Chair: Rosa DeLauro
Grade for the 117th Congress
1 Investigative Oversight Hearings
178 Policy/Legislative Hearings
225 Total HearingsLast updated: May 7, 2023, 7:19 p.m.
With 53 members, Appropriations is a big committee with big responsibilities—completing 12 major appropriations bills each year for all the government’s discretionary spending, roughly a third of the federal budget. As in the Senate, much of the committee’s work is done by its 12 subcommittees, which are aligned with the Senate’s. They have their own staffs and offices. Some subcommittees are responsible for funding a single large agency, such as the Defense subcommittee, while others fund multiple agencies and departments, such as the subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies. If the regular appropriations bills aren’t signed by Oct. 1 each year, the committee is responsible for drafting continuing resolutions to fund the government until the individual bills are approved. The committee has considerable discretion to allocate greater or less money to various programs than requested in the president’s annual budget or than is called for in the authorizing legislation. This spending power makes the committee highly sought-after, both for its ability to fund projects in members’ districts and to raise campaign money, and most members sit on no other committees. (By rule, five Appropriations Committee members sit on the House Budget Committee.)
The committee traditionally has one of the more active hearing schedules in the House. A good proportion of them are hearings on legislation and policy, in part because authorization bills, where such issues are normally handled, are difficult to pass in the gridlocked Congress. After a dip in the previous Congress, in the 116th Congress (2019-20), that high pace resumed under retiring Chair Nita Lowey (D-NY). The number of policy/ legislative hearings and the total number of hearings were each the second highest of the period.
The committee historically has conducted little investigative oversight. However, under Chair Lowey it held four, up from two in the previous Congress. In July 2019 it held a hearing into management challenges at the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Agency for Global Media. In November of that year it held a hearing on the alleged failure of the administration to implement the 2017 Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. In June of 2020 it held two separate hearings on the administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic, one looking at the performance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the other at the Indian Health Service.
111th Congress: David Obey (D-WI)
112th Congress: Hal Rogers (R-KY)
113th Congress: Hal Rogers (R-KY)
114th Congress: Hal Rogers (R-KY)
115th Congress: Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ)
116th Congress: Nita Lowey (D-NY)
117th Congress: Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)
We are 100% of the way through the 117th Congress
House Committee on Appropriations1 Investigative Oversight Hearings; 15% historical maximum
Number of Hearings
Committee Hearing Performance
* Adjustments have been applied so that committees' grades are not lowered by the constraints on hearings caused by Covid-19 [oversight-index.thelugarcenter.org/covid-19-statement]