U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, the Bremerton Democrat who represents the Olympic Peninsula as part of the sprawling 6th Congressional District, is in line to become chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee should he win re-election this fall and should the Democrats retain control over the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Appropriations Committee chairmanship is considered by many to be one of the most powerful seats in Congress. The budget-writing committee oversees the budget of every governmental agency and has direct control over more than one-third of all federal spending - nearly $1.4 trillion each year.
The current chairman, Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin, announced his retirement in June. Dicks recently became chairman of the defense subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee, a post he has told the media he would retain even if he becomes chairman of the full committee.
The Republicans are mounting an electoral challenge to Democratic control of the House. In 1994, when Dicks was set to become chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, the Republicans took the majority in the House and Dicks lost his chance.
Up for re-election
Dicks is conducting a re-election campaign in the 6th District. His opponents are the Tacoma attorney he defeated in the past three elections, Republican Doug Cloud, and Jesse Young of Gig Harbor, an information technology consultant.
To secure the Appropriations chairmanship, Dicks also would need to win the support of House leadership. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has voiced her support of him, but other House leaders have not made a commitment.
Dicks has served in Congress for 34 years, a total of 17 terms. He won a rare freshman appointment to the Appropriations Committee thanks to the support of Washington's senior senators Henry Jackson and Warren Magnuson. Prior to his election to Congress, Dicks served on Magnuson's staff.
Locally Dicks has overseen federal contributions to the Northwest Maritime Center, among other regional projects.
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