Gramm Chairs Senate Commerce Appropriations Subcommittee

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Publication date: 
2 November 1995
Number: 
16

Appropriators are some of the most powerful Members of Congress
because they control the purse strings of federal programs.  In the
104th Congress, Senator Phil Gramm of Texas chairs the Senate
Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State, and
Judiciary.  This subcommittee funds, among other programs, the
Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and
Technology.  Gramm replaces Senator Ernest Hollings of South
Carolina as subcommittee chairman.

Subcommittee Roster:

Republicans:                   Democrats:
Phil Gramm (TX)                Ernest Hollings (SC)
Ted Stevens (AK)               Daniel Inouye (HI)
Mark Hatfield (OR)             Dale Bumpers (AR)
Pete Domenici (NM)             Frank Lautenberg (NJ)
Mitch McConnell (KY)           Bob Kerrey (NE)
Judd Gregg (NH)*            *new member of subcommittee

In addition to being an aspiring presidential candidate, Gramm made
a name for himself as a co-sponsor of the Gramm-Rudman anti-deficit
law in 1985 and a long-time advocate of a balanced budget amendment
to the Constitution.  Gramm began his congressional service in 1979
in the House, as a Democrat.  He switched to the Republican party
in 1983, largely due to conservative fiscal leanings, and was
elected to the Senate in 1984.  In addition to chairing the
commerce appropriations subcommittee, he also serves on the VA/HUD
appropriations subcommittee, and the Senate Budget and Banking
Committees.

Gramm has not been averse to channeling funds to his state.  He has
consistently supported the space station, while opposing drastic
redesigns.  Johnson Space Center, a major player in the station's
construction, is located in Houston.  Gramm also supported the
ill-fated SSC, which was to be built in Waxahachie, Texas. 

Gramm proved an active opponent of President Clinton's budget
policies in the last Congress.  An analysis of his 1993 voting
record shows that he voted with the Republican party 94 percent of
the time, with the President only 21 percent of the time, and
received a conservative coalition ranking of 93 percent.  (This
ranking, determined by "Congressional Quarterly" magazine, measures
how often a Member voted with a majority of Republicans and
Southern Democrats against a majority of all other Democrats.)

The following remarks made by Gramm in 1993 give some indication of
his viewpoint on science funding.  Noting that NSF suffers from the
lack of a clear constituency, he cautioned that, given scarce
resources, NSF "was not as appealing politically" as other issues
in the 1994 election.  However, on possible cuts in NASA space
science missions, Gramm warned that it was important "to let
Members of Congress know that cuts have consequences."