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The Price of Power Revisited

Issue One

With Republicans taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives last month for the first time in four years, there’s been a shift in leadership in the legislative branch of government.

Republicans have picked Reps. Kay Granger (R-TX), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Patrick McHenry (R-NC), and Jason Smith (R-MO) to lead the four most powerful committees in the House — Appropriations, Energy and Commerce, Financial Services, and Ways and Means.

With the gavels come not only the power to set the agendas for their respective committees, but also something more insidious — astronomical fundraising demands that are akin to a tax that legislators are expected to pay for their committee slot. They often pay this “committee tax” by soliciting corporations, labor unions, and other special interests that have business before their committees.

As Issue One has previously detailed, both the Democratic and Republican parties lean on all members of Congress to raise funds for the party’s political war chests. The more influential a legislator’s role in Congress, the more money party leaders expect them to raise, with committee chairs being expected to raise more funds than members of their caucus who aren’t in leadership roles.

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