New Jersey's Rep. Frelinghuysen Named House's Top Budget Writer

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Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen greets U.S. Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at a budget hearing earlier this year.

New Jersey Republican Rodney Frelinghuysen will hold the power of the purse in the next Congress.

House Republicans approved Frelinghuysen as their pick for Appropriations Committee chairman Friday. He'll help write the annual bill that controls federal spending on roads, housing, research and more.

Frelinghuysen said replacing a failing rail tunnel between New Jersey and New York City is a priority when he takes the reins of the budget-writing committee in January. The tunnel project could cost as much as much as $20 billion

A self-described moderate, Frelinghuysen won over conservative House Republicans with his easy-going ways. But he pledged to strengthen Congress' role in spending.

“Next year, we have a unique opportunity to transform the size, scope and direction of government and the Appropriations Committee will be key to that effort!" he said in a statement.

The Morris County resident just won a twelfth term in the House.

Frelinghuysen's ascension gives the Tri-State area strong influence on the committee. New York’s Nita Lowey is the highest ranking Democrat on the committee.

Frelinghuysen isn't the only local member of Congress climbing the leadership ladder this week. New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell was added to the panel that chooses Democratic committee assignments. And Connecticut Rep. Jim Himes was elected chairman of the New Democrat coalition, a 50-member group that supports moderate and pro-growth policies such as fast-track trade approval and reforming federal worker visa programs.