When it comes to earmarks and the culture of wasteful spending that they have come to symbolize, presumptive House Speaker John Boehner has a dilemma on his hands. It is this: What to do about the chairmanship of the House Appropriations Committee -- that's the spending committee.
The chairman's gavel normally passes to the most senior member. In this case, that would be 76-year-old Jerry Lewis of California, who has already been chairman once before and has a well-earned reputation for bringing home the boodle. He bagged $137 million in earmarks for his district in 2007 alone. He would need a special waiver from Boehner to repeat as chairman.
Behind him is Hal Rogers of Kentucky, known his largest district newspaper as "The Prince of Pork." The watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste named Rogers Porker of the Month earlier this year after he sought $5 million federal dollars for overseas organizations that protect lions and cheetahs. It turned out his daughter works for such an organization.
Then there's Bill Young of Florida, who will be 80 next month and has also been chairman before. He has directed federal money to two companies where his two sons worked.
John Boehner would need to pass over all three of these men to get to a member with a rating above 40 out of a possible 100 from Citizens Against Government Waste. But if he doesn't do it, when it comes to spending, the new Republican House will look a lot like the old Republican House.