Debbie Wasserman Schultz Makes a Bid to Lead Appropriations Committee

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., is looking to obtain a key committee chairmanship on Capitol Hill.

Wasserman Schultz announced on Thursday that she wants to be the next chairwoman of the powerful U.S. House Appropriations Committee. If selected by her fellow Democrats and her party retains the House, the South Florida congresswoman will take over as chairwoman at the start of 2021. The post will be vacant as U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey, D-NY, the current chairwoman, is not seeking reelection in 2020.

“We must ensure that as we move into a new decade, we have strong and strategic leadership to bring about sensible, 21st-century reforms that will make the House Appropriations Committee process more inclusive, accessible and even more transparent for all members,” Wasserman Schultz wrote Democrats on the Appropriations Committee.

Currently wielding the gavel on the U.S. House Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee, Wasserman Schultz showcased her record there, insisting she has “led the fight to protect these vital resources against President Trump’s unconstitutional raid on our military and their families to pay for the border wall boondoggle.”

Wasserman Schultz faces serious competition for the post from U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Ct., and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio. There could be other candidates in the mix as well.

Currently the 13th most senior Democrat on the committee, even if she does not take the gavel, Wasserman Schultz has a good chance of moving up the ranks in the years to come. Only one of the Democrats ahead of her–recent presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio–is younger than Wasserman Schultz who is only 53 despite having already spent more than a quarter-century on the state and national political stages.

After a dozen years of service in both chambers of the Florida Legislature, Wasserman Schultz was first elected to Congress in 2004. Wasserman Schultz took to the national stage in 2011 when she became chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and led the party in 2012 as then-President Barack Obama won a second term. Staying in that post, Wasserman Schultz drew fire from a supporter of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who accused her of helping longtime ally former U.S. Sec. of State Hillary Clinton win the Democratic presidential nomination. Wasserman Schultz stepped down from the DNC post in July 2016.

Wasserman Schultz represents a secure Democratic district but there have been some rough spots in recent elections. Back in 2016, she faced a primary challenge from Tim Canova who had Sanders’ support. Wasserman Schultz had to work to defend her seat but she won the primary 57 percent to 43 percent. She went on to beat Republican Joe Kaufman 57 percent to 41 percent in the general election. A solid margin to be sure but she had thumped Kaufman 63 percent to 37 percent in 2014, a good year for Republicans though redistricting in 2016 could have impacted her smaller margin over Kaufman that year.

In 2018, Wasserman Schultz got back on track despite Canova running with no party affiliation. She won with 59 percent while Kaufman took 36 percent in his latest bid to topple her. Despite his previous showing against her, Canova pulled only 5 percent. Regardless of what happens in the committee chair contest, Wasserman Schultz looks safe if she runs again in 2020.


Kevin Derby can be reached at


Kevin Derby
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