Canton Repository

February 3, 2006

Ohio should benefit from Boehner victory

By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service

WASHINGTON - As the freshly elected Republican majority leader in Congress, Rep. John Boehner will have the ability to influence and help pass legislation that would benefit his home state of Ohio, fellow lawmakers and analysts said Thursday.

At the same time, Boehner has advocated curtailing the federal spending projects that individual lawmakers put in legislation to benefit their congressional districts.

Rep. Ralph Regula, R-Bethlehem Township, said Boehner, in his new position, will be able to wield clout on behalf of Ohio even though Boehner favors restrictions on the earmarked spending that Regula strongly supports.

As the new No. 2 leader in the House, Boehner “has the ability to influence legislation and an ability to schedule legislation,” Regula said. “The majority leader just decides the calendar so that bills that are important to Ohio — he can make sure they get scheduled.”

Boehner, R-West Chester, could arrange for legislation to come before Congress that promotes the use of coal and ethanol, which would benefit Ohio miners and farmers, Regula said.

Boehner emerged as majority leader Thursday in an upset victory over Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., who had served as acting majority leader since Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, stepped down after being indicted on campaign finance charges last year.

Though Boehner campaigned as a reform candidate, some have questioned his credentials because of his close ties to lobbyists in the past.

Boehner has proposed sharp cutbacks in the use of so-called earmarks, the federal spending projects that lawmakers seek to benefit their constituents and secure their re-election.

Critics deride the spending as wasteful pork.

Although Boehner brags that he “never asked for a single pork barrel project” for his district, Regula has used his power as a senior appropriator to bring tens of millions of dollars in federal spending to his district and the state.

Rep. Bob Ney, R-Heath, did not respond to a request for an interview on Boehner’s selection.

But observers of Congress agreed with Regula’s assessment that Boehner could help the state in his new post.

“Doing something for your state is not simply just earmarks or pork barrel projects,” said Herb Asher, a political science professor at Ohio State University. “It’s also policies. It’s also the formulas you decide on to distribute dollars.

“I think it’s very good for Ohio.”