California Clout Grows in GOP-Led Congress

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Democratic presidential candidates have carried California in every election since 1992, making the Golden State one of the nation's bluest states. But California is now home to the highest concentration of red state power in history.

California Republicans (search) have won the chairmanship of six powerful House committees. That means no state in the union has greater congressional clout.

"If you rank the top powerful committees in the House, a member from California chairs every one of them," said AEI (search) scholar Norm Ornstein. "There isn't a major issue that doesn't run through a member from California in the House right now."

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas, from Bakersfield, is responsible for tax rates, international trade and health care. Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis of San Bernardino County is on top of the panel that is responsible for about $900 billion in domestic spending.

Military policy, weapons systems, soldiers' pay and training are all under Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter, from the San Diego area. Chris Cox, from Orange County, is in charge of the Homeland Security Committee.

"There is no question that California is in a much more significant leadership position than has ever been the case," said Cox, who is also chairman of the House GOP Policy Committee.

The House Rules Committee, which sets the parameters for debate on the House floor, is run by David Dreier, who represents the St. Gabriel Valley, east of Los Angeles.

House policy on federal land use and natural parks is also under a Californian, Richard Pombo, whose district runs through rural areas of San Joaquin, Alameda, Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties.

"This is an unprecedented time in California history to have this much power concentrated in one state, and I am not sure even the governor's office understands what this means," said Democratic strategist Harvey Englander.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (search) will use this leverage to bring more federal dollars home. California receives $50 billion less in federal dollars than it sends to Washington, D.C., in taxes. And D.C. could help Schwarzenegger alleviate belt-tightening at home.

As for the state's business elite — two words sum up the newfound power on Capitol Hill — California dreaming.

"The senior executives in charge of government relations understand the new clout that California has, and they're developing strategies within their industries within business to help out California," Englander said.

Click in the box near the top of the story to watch a report by FOX News' Major Garrett.