State to wield clout in Congress
By PAUL M. KRAWZAK
Repository Washington correspondent
WASHINGTON — With the appointment of six Ohio congressmen to top leadership positions this week, the state’s clout in Congress will grow to its highest level since at least the early 20th century, experts said Friday.
Ohio will wield greater influence as Congress debates national issues and the state will stand a better chance of increased federal funding, Ohio lawmakers bragged.
‘‘I would suspect you would have to go at least back to the 1920s’’ to find a comparable level of clout in the Ohio congressional delegation, said Rep. Michael G. Oxley, R-Findlay, one of two from the state named to chair House committees.
Oxley will chair the Financial Services Committee, while Rep. John A. Boehner, R-West Chester, was named chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee.
In the last Congress, just one Ohio legislator chaired a committee — Rep. John Kasich, R-Westerville, who chaired the Budget Committee.
One of the most important appointments is that of Rep. Ralph Regula, R-Bethlehem Township, named chairman of the Appropriation Committee’s Labor, Health and Human Services and Education
Regula previously served three terms as chairman of the Interior subcommittee of appropriations, a position he had to leave because of GOP rules that limit chairmanships to six years. He said he will remain as the No. 2 Republican on the Interior Subcommittee and will also remain on the Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary Subcommittee.
In his new position, Regula will wield more influence than any other Ohio congressman, including the two committee chairmen, one analyst said.
‘‘I don’t think the rest of them can touch Ralph Regula in terms of actually bringing home specific goods for Ohio,’’ said Marshall Wittmann, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. ‘‘Every university and hospital in the state is going to be knocking on Ralph Regula’s door and ringing his phone off the hook because he has so much authority over a universe of federal grants.’’
The subcommittee controls more than $100 billion a year in federal spending that goes to schools, hospitals, job programs, medical research and other projects. It has the second-largest budget of any of the 13 appropriations subcommittees.
Rep. David Hobson, R-Springfield, will maintain the chairmanship of another appropriations subcommittee — military construction.
The other Ohio lawmakers rising to leadership positions are Rep. Deborah Pryce, R-Columbus, named chairman of the Rules Committee’s Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process, and Rep. Rob Portman, R-Terrace Park, appointed to a newly created position of chairman of leadership under House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois.
‘‘Ohio has taken a huge leap forward just in the last few days,’’ said Pryce, who credited Regula for pushing Ohio legislators in his role as one of 26 members of a GOP Steering Committee that recommended committee chairmen to the full Republican membership.
‘‘Much of this has to do with the good work of the dean of our delegation, Ralph Regula, and his steady hand in this steering committee,’’ said Pryce, who also served on the steering committee.