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In a 148-79 vote, the House Democratic Caucus voted New Haven Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., chair of the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday morning, making her the first Connecticut representative to fill the role.

The 15-term representative will replace current chair Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., who is preparing to retire, beginning when the new Congress convenes in January. The Appropriations Committee controls the “discretionary spending” portion of the budget, which totals $1.3 trillion dollars every year but is projected to rise in the next fiscal year by $300 billion dollars due to COVID-19. 

In her bid to chair the committee, DeLauro received endorsements from a handful of colleagues and organizations, ranging from Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers to Richard Trumka, president of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations. The vote follows a Tuesday announcement from the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee that they were recommending DeLauro for the job. 

“Serving in this role will be one of the greatest honors of my life, and I am eager to get to work and responsibly fund our government in a way that meets the needs of this moment,” DeLauro said in a statement to the press on Thursday. “As House Appropriations Chair, I am prepared to deliver the boldest progress possible for Connecticut and families across the country in the next Congress.”

DeLauro’s plans for the committee have centered around three pillars — transparency, accountability and inclusion. Her “Operation Transparency” includes a call for a “new initiatives” forum in which the committee could host informal meetings “to solicit new ideas on key domestic, economic and national security matters.” DeLauro’s platform also includes a call to “ensure priorities reflect America’s diversity,” stimulate collaboration between subcommittees of the committee and embrace bipartisanship.

In a letter DeLauro sent to her colleagues obtained by the News, she expressed the intent to implement a “10-20-30 Plan” as standard practice in the committee. The plan, first coined by current House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C.,  is a set of guidelines meant to guarantee funding for counties with the greatest financial need. It recommends 10 percent of funds must go to counties in which 20 percent of the county’s population has lived below the poverty line for at least 30 years.

“I’ll make sure it will become standard practice in all our appropriation bills,” DeLauro said. “It will be an important step in finally dealing with entrenched poverty in so many parts of

our country.”

In interviews with the News this week, several New Haven elected officials expressed optimism about what a DeLauro-run committee would mean for the city and for the state.

Connecticut State Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney has known DeLauro for decades. DeLauro has assisted him in his run for state legislature and he’s supported her in her runs for congress. 

“She has been, for the last 30 years, one of the strongest progressive leaders in Congress,” Looney said. “She’s been an activist all her life, but this role would put her in a position to do even more.”

Also enthusiastic about a DeLauro-run committee was State Rep. Patricia Dillon, D-New Haven.

Dillon pointed to DeLauro’s immigrant family roots as a strong foundation for understanding the effects of economic turmoil on everyday people. This, she said, will help her to weigh budget constraints when she takes the gavel.

“There may be a number of things that this administration is damaging on the way out to try to tie the hands of Joe Biden on the way in,” Dillon said. “She’s gonna be constrained, but I would say that one of the most important things is that she has a very strong sense of justice, she has a strong sense of economic disparity, so when she does legislation she brings all those experiences.”

DeLauro will be the second woman to fulfill the role after Lowey. 

Owen Tucker-Smith | owen.tucker-smith@yale.edu