'Prince of Pork' Hal Rogers Will Chair House Appropriations Committee

House Republicans appoint Hal Rogers to chair of influential committee.

ByABC News
December 8, 2010, 12:06 PM

Dec. 8, 2010— -- In a year when spending is scrutinized and the budget is used as a political football, House Republicans have raised eyebrows by appointing pork-heavy Rep. Hal Rogers to chair the House Appropriations Committee.

Rogers, of Kentucky, has been the front-runner for the spot, despite a reputation for funneling taxpayer money into his own district that has earned him the nickname "Prince of Pork."

He told ABC News today that after the midterm elections, and before being appointed chair, he promised to change his ways, and rein in the pork spending..

"No more earmarks," he said. "I'll be the enforcer of the moratorium."

"The electorate told us, I think, the number one thing they want is to cut spending," he said. "And that's what we'll do."

In two years, Rogers pushed through 135 earmarks worth $246 million. He's brought tens of millions of dollars into his hometown of Somerset, Ky., so much so that the town has been dubbed "Mr. Rogers' neighborhood."

There's the $52 million National Center for Hometown Security and the tiny airport that received $17 million in federal dollars but has so little traffic that the last commercial airline pulled out in February.

There's also the Hal Rogers Parkway, which was formerly known as the Daniel Boone Parkway before being renamed for the 16-term congressman.

More recently, Rogers was able to secure $5 million dollars for conservation groups that work with wild cats. Among the organizations that could benefit from the money is the Namibia-based Cheetah Conservation Fund, which employs Rogers' daughter.

But despite Rogers' penchant for pet projects, the GOP has vowed that the new House Appropriations Committee will take a hard line on spending.

House Republicans have already voted to cut out earmarks – a ban Rogers supports.

Rogers will also be charged with cutting non-defense discretionary spending by $100 billion -- a promise Republicans made in their Pledge to America.