Congresswoman Pingree Appointed to Powerful House Appropriations Committee; The “Power of the Purse” Committee


US Rep. Chellie Pingree (D), Speaking at a Memorial Day Observance Several Years Ago.

By Carol McCracken  (Post # 1,238)

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree has been appointed to the powerful House Appropriations Committee according to a press release issued by her office earlier today.  This is an important position for Congresswoman Pingree and the State of Maine because it is where spending is set for nearly all government programs.  Pingree will be only the second House member from Maine since 1899 and only the fifth Mainer in history to serve on the Committee.

The Appropriations Committee is said to control the “power of the purse” and must pass virtually any bill that allows the federal government to spend money.  “It’s a great opportuntiy to have a significant impact on how money is spent on programs that affect Maine, like shipbuilding or agriculture,” Pingree said.  “I know it will be a lot of work, but will be well worth it to be able to influence spending priorities in Maine and nationally.”

Making this appointment even more significant for Maine, is that only four Maine House members, prior to Rep. Pingree, have been placed on Appropriations, starting with James G. Blaine, who served one term just after the Civil War.  Eugene Hale served for six years in the 1870s and Nelson Dingleyu served on Appropriations for four years in the late 1890s.  The last Maine House member to serve was about 40 years ago, when Congressman Bill Hathaway was appointed to the Committee.

Pingree plans to ask Congressional leaders for a waiver to allow her to continue to serve on the House Armed Services Committee as well as the House Agriculture Committee.

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D) won re-election easily in November.  She and her husband live on North Haven Island and have a home in the East End of Portland.