After an internal struggle within the House Republican caucus, the GOP Steering Committee voted to select Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) as the new Chairman for the Appropriations Committee yesterday. Rogers campaigned for the position promising to carry out the wider Republican agenda of defunding popular progressive policies, particularly with a pledge to “stop” money from being spent on health reform. Despite a pledge to be a fiscally responsible chairman, Rogers has one of the worst records in Congress when it comes to reducing the deficit: he voted for both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, trillions of dollars worth of Bush tax cuts, and is affectionately known as the “Pork King” for requesting nearly half a billion dollars worth of earmarks. However, earmarking and these votes are fairly common within the Republican caucus.
As Rogers postures as the greatest opponent of Obama’s health reform plan — calling it a “monstrosity” and “socialistic” — he has taken a very different tone in private. Using a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, ThinkProgress has obtained a letter from Rogers to the Health Resources and Services Administration, a bureau of Health and Human Services, seeking money from health reform. Rogers asked for a Nurse Managed Health Clinics grant (HRSA-10-282), a program authorized by Obama’s health reform law that averages $1.5 million per grantee, for the Frontier Nursing Service Community Health Center in Clay County, Kentucky. “With this funding,” Rogers explained, “Frontier Nursing Service will be able to continue operations for the next three years, and continue to provide critical care in an area in extreme need of access to adequate health care.” View a screen shot of the letter below, and download a copy here:
Another ThinkProgress FOIA request revealed that Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), who called health reform “unconstitutional,” also quietly lobbied the Obama administration for nearly a million dollars in health reform money. In his letter, Ensign lavished praise on a health reform program he said would alleviate the “growing challenges Nevada continues to face with providing access to much-needed health care.” Similarly, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has taken credit for Medicare improvements made possible by the law. Every Republican in Congress voted against the bill.
Unfortunately, the community health clinic Rogers lobbied for did not win the million dollar grant. But Roger’s lobbying shows that even health reform critics who have told the public that the law is “socialistic” support its benefits for their constituents.