Not only did it became impossible to reach the necessary compromises to pass appropriations bills, it became politically toxic for Republicans to even be associated with the process, lest they be criticized for selling out on fiscal principles.
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Kingston, a senior appropriator whose Senate bid is being endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is attempting to put a different spin on his role on the committee. And he's not alone. With the waning influence of the tea party, and since Congress passed a compromise budget bill at the end of last year that returned the legislative process back to its regular order, there are signs that appropriations is getting its groove back.
A dozen experts interviewed for this story—including top current and former committee members and staffers—expressed a growing confidence that the committee is on a path to reclaiming its former power.
But whether it can ever return to its once-hallowed status is an open question—owing, in part, to members' ability to explain how important the committee is in running the country and providing oversight of the executive.
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"I don't think people understand how we are responsible managers of federal income dollars," said Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., who chairs the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. "We need to do a better job of communicating that and we are doing a better job of that and leadership is letting us."