Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 1980, 18th term.

Born: December 31, 1937, Barrier, KY

Home: Somerset, KY

Education: U. of KY, B.A. 1962, J.D. 1964

Professional Career: Practicing atty., 1964–69; Pulaski–Rockcastle Commonwealth's Atty., 1969–80.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Baptist

Family: Married (Cynthia Doyle) , 3 children (from a previous marriage)

Harold Rogers, a Republican first elected in 1980, chairs the House Appropriations Committee. He is an old-school deal-maker who, in the days before the ban on earmarks, not only defended them but boasted about the prodigious sums he steered back home. The Lexington Herald-Leader dubbed him the “Prince of Pork,” but he is beloved in his rural district: He regularly is reelected with more than 75% of the vote.

Rogers grew up in Wayne County, graduated from the University of Kentucky, served in the National Guard, and then practiced law in Somerset before buying the Citizens National Bank in Somerset. In 1969, at age 34, he was elected Pulaski-Rockcastle Commonwealth attorney. In 1979, he was the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor. The following year, when the 5th District congressman retired, Rogers was one of 11 Republicans in the primary. He got the nomination with 23% of the vote (Kentucky has no runoff except in gubernatorial races) and then easily won in November.

His toughest race came in 1992, after redistricting. At first, his likely opponent was 7th District incumbent Rep. Chris Perkins, a Democrat and the son of longtime Rep. Carl Perkins. But then Perkins suddenly retired from Congress, just before it was revealed that he had 514 overdrafts at the House bank when such overdrafts were developing into a major Washington scandal. Rogers ended up facing state Sen. John Doug Hays of Pike County. Rogers won with 55% of the vote in a year many Southern Democrats were turning out to vote for Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton for president.

Rogers rose to chairman of Appropriations in 2011 after Republicans won control of the House. He had first sought the post after the 2004 election, but the GOP leadership chose the more senior Jerry Lewis of California. After the 2010 election, Lewis sought a waiver of the Republicans’ three-term limit on chairman and ranking member positions, but the Republican Steering Committee did not agree and named Rogers as chairman.

His voting record is mostly, but not always, conservative. His district has long been hungry for federal aid, and Rogers often has found it difficult to maintain an impeccably conservative record on spending issues. He has defended the Appalachian Regional Commission, a perennial target of conservative groups, against amendments to slash its funding. He has argued that the federal/state partnership has successfully helped to close the gap between the impoverished area and the rest of the country.

In Republicans’ earlier stint in the majority (1995-2007), he secured $162 million to protect the solvency of the United Mine Workers Combined Benefit Fund, $15 million for a 760-seat theater near Somerset, and $341 million for a massive concrete wall to close off leaks at Wolf Creek Dam at Lake Cumberland after the lowering of lake water levels caused a drop in tourism. When he chaired the Appropriations Transportation Subcommittee in 2001, Kentucky became the fourth-highest state in transportation funding per capita. The Daniel Boone Parkway, from London to Hazard, has been renamed the Hal Rogers Parkway. “The rate of return on highway spending far exceeds most other investments and is a proven engine,” Rogers once wrote when he was criticized for his earmarked spending. In addition, he was the only House Republican in 2011 to sign a Democratic “discharge petition” demanding that GOP leaders bring up a bill addressing China’s manipulation of its currency that had passed the Senate; he later withdrew his name.

In recent years, controversy over earmarks, the special provisions that lawmakers slip into spending bills for their districts and states, put an unaccustomed spotlight on Rogers and other powerful appropriators, who for years were used to going about their business quietly. When he was criticized for fighting to keep the Transportation Worker Identification Credential program in Corbin, he replied that it was one of only three government facilities with sufficient security to produce the cards. Rogers has continued raising significant sums of political cash from firms that have won homeland security contracts. He responded, “I’ve had a lot of fundraisers. Campaign contributions mean nothing on my watch.”

But Rogers rose to Appropriations chairman just as most House Republicans, especially the 87 freshmen elected in 2010, were determined to end the practice of earmarking. Despite his work over the years funding projects at home, he went along with the GOP leadership’s moratorium on earmarks in November 2010. After winning reelection in 2012, he touted his success in helping to cut wasteful spending. “We’ve cut the spending Congress does for three years now, which has not happened since World War II,” he said. “We’ve cut $100 million off the spending Congress appropriates.” The earmark ban did not eliminate his influence entirely. The New York Times reported in April 2012 that an earmark he had added three years earlier was still in place to benefit a Kentucky company that manufactures drip pans to catch leaking transmission fluid on the Army’s Black Hawk helicopters, even though there was a cheaper alternative.

Part of the reason for Rogers’ continuing clout is his ability to work with Democrats. “He’s very approachable,” committee member Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, told National Journal. “He’s a matter-of-fact sort of gentleman—I mean, he doesn’t spend a lot of time on wasted words, he’s terse—but I think very effective.”

Another source of his influence is the inability of recent congressional majorities to pass individual appropriations bills, which has led to massive omnibus spending bills, something that has enabled Republicans to make policy via “riders” on the omnibus legislation. The December 2011 final spending bill included the elimination of more than two dozen federal programs and put in place limits on several key provisions of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. In 2014, he started an effort to have rank-and-file Republicans become an early part of the appropriations process to minimize attempts to add last-minute "poison pill" amendments on the floor.

One Democrat that Rogers has worked well with is Maryland's Barbara Mikulski, who became his counterpart on the Senate Appropriations Committee in 2013. The pair achieved a significant goal in January 2014 when Congress approved an omnibus spending bill -- the first time since 2009 that Congress completed appropriations bills that went beyond continuing resolutions. "Chairman Rogers and I work well together because we have the same goals," Mikulski told Federal Computer Week. 

Later that year, Rogers sought to get Congress to act on a funding bill before the August recess, but was unsuccessful. He also turned up his nose at President Obama's request for $3.7 billion to deal with the refugee crisis at the Texas-Mexico border. "It's too much money; we don’t need it," he told reporters. "Secondly, a lot of what he’s requesting is being considered in the regular bill process.” At the same time, he helped steer through the committee a natural resources funding bill that cut the Environmental Protection Agency's budget by 9 percent. He blasted the president for being “hell bent on adding layer after layer of regulatory red tape to the economy” and for trying to hurt coal miners.

When Obama issued an executive order protecting certain illegal immigrants in November, many conservatives vowed to overturn it. But Rogers warned against using the issue to provoke another spending-bill confrontation. "I just don’t think it’s very smart, wise or prudent to talk about a shutdown scenario,” he said. That enraged conservative activists; National Review Online ran an article headlined "Hal Rogers, Obama Republican," and talk show host Laura Ingraham demanded that Rogers draw a primary challenger in 2016. "Hal Rogers refuses to consider the sensible process of defunding Obama’s executive amnesty and instead throws up all of these false roadblocks to defunding Obama’s executive amnesty," she said.

But when Republicans eventually sought to use the Homeland Security Department spending bill to try to block the move, Rogers joined his GOP colleagues in criticizing Senate Democrats. "They should pass the bill, which funds a very vital national security agency but also turns back this blanket amnesty, which is illegal and unconstitutional," he said in February 2015. Rogers also was much more in line with his fellow Republicans in reacting negatively to Obama's fiscal 2016 budget proposal, which he complained asked "for billions in additional spending without any realistic way of paying for it."

On national issues, Rogers over the years has focused on homeland security. Even before the September 11 attacks, he lamented that most airport screeners were not U.S. citizens, and after Congress voted to federalize airport screeners, he kept a close watch on the new agency. More recently, he questioned in 2010 the Obama administration’s proposals for airport body scanners because, he said, it was unclear whether such a costly and manpower-intensive approach would get results. Rogers also questioned the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s policy of giving work permits to apprehended illegal immigrants who testify against their employers. The Obama administration, he complained, had practically given up deporting illegal immigrants arrested at work sites in favor of what he derisively called “virtual amnesty.”

Drug abuse is another of Rogers' priorities. Since 2000, his office boasts, he has helped obtain more than $35 million just to help the Kentucky National Guard and U.S. Forest Service get rid of marijuana growing in the Daniel Boone National Forest. And he has been outspoken about the growing abuse of heroin and prescription drugs in the region. He and Massachusetts Democrat Stephen Lynch launched a caucus on prescription drug abuse.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-4601

(202) 225-0940

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2406
Washington, DC 20515-1705

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-4601

(202) 225-0940

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2406
Washington, DC 20515-1705

DISTRICT OFFICE

(606) 679-8346

(606) 678-4856

551 Clifty Street
Somerset, KY 42503

DISTRICT OFFICE

(606) 679-8346

(606) 678-4856

551 Clifty Street
Somerset, KY 42501-1782

DISTRICT OFFICE

(606) 439-0794

(606) 439-4647

48 South KY Highway 15
Hazard, KY 41701

DISTRICT OFFICE

(606) 439-0794

(606) 439-4647

48 South Kentucky Highway 15
Hazard, KY 41701

DISTRICT OFFICE

(606) 886-0844

(606) 889-0371

110 Resource Court Suite A
Prestonsburg, KY 41653

DISTRICT OFFICE

(606) 886-0844

(606) 889-0371

110 Resource Court Suite A
Prestonsburg, KY 41653-7851

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

PO Box 1214
Somerset, KY 42502

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

PO Box 1214
Somerset, KY 42502

EXPORT CONTACTS » *

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Shannon Rickett
Legislative Assistant

Aerospace

Shannon Rickett
Legislative Assistant

Agriculture

Shannon Rickett
Legislative Assistant

Appropriations

Megan Bell
Chief of Staff

megan.bell@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-4601

Banking

Ryan Canfield
Legislative Director

Budget

Ryan Canfield
Legislative Director

Campaign

Ryan Canfield
Legislative Director

Alex Pinson
Legislative Correspondent; Legislative Assistant

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Ryan Canfield
Legislative Director

Crime

Megan Bell
Chief of Staff

megan.bell@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-4601

Ryan Canfield
Legislative Director

Alex Pinson
Legislative Correspondent; Legislative Assistant

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Shannon Rickett
Legislative Assistant

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Ryan Canfield
Legislative Director

Alex Pinson
Legislative Correspondent; Legislative Assistant

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Ryan Canfield
Legislative Director

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Shannon Rickett
Legislative Assistant

Energy

Ashley Nichols
Legislative Assistant

Shannon Rickett
Legislative Assistant

Environment

Ashley Nichols
Legislative Assistant

Family

Shannon Rickett
Legislative Assistant

Finance

Ryan Canfield
Legislative Director

Foreign

Ryan Canfield
Legislative Director

Govt Ops

Ryan Canfield
Legislative Director

Shannon Rickett
Legislative Assistant

Alex Pinson
Legislative Correspondent; Legislative Assistant

Gun Issues

Ryan Canfield
Legislative Director

Health

Shannon Rickett
Legislative Assistant

Alex Pinson
Legislative Correspondent; Legislative Assistant

Homeland Security

Ryan Canfield
Legislative Director

Housing

Shannon Rickett
Legislative Assistant

Human Rights

Shannon Rickett
Legislative Assistant

Immigration

Alex Pinson
Legislative Correspondent; Legislative Assistant

Insurance

Ryan Canfield
Legislative Director

Shannon Rickett
Legislative Assistant

Alex Pinson
Legislative Correspondent; Legislative Assistant

Judiciary

Ryan Canfield
Legislative Director

Alex Pinson
Legislative Correspondent; Legislative Assistant

Labor

Shannon Rickett
Legislative Assistant

Land Use

Ashley Nichols
Legislative Assistant

Medicare

Shannon Rickett
Legislative Assistant

Military

Ryan Canfield
Legislative Director

Ashley Nichols
Legislative Assistant

Public Works

Shannon Rickett
Legislative Assistant

Recreation

Ashley Nichols
Legislative Assistant

Religion

Shannon Rickett
Legislative Assistant

Rules

Megan Bell
Chief of Staff

megan.bell@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-4601

Seniors

Shannon Rickett
Legislative Assistant

Small Business

Ryan Canfield
Legislative Director

Shannon Rickett
Legislative Assistant

Social Security

Shannon Rickett
Legislative Assistant

Tax

Ryan Canfield
Legislative Director

Telecommunications

Megan Bell
Chief of Staff

megan.bell@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-4601

Trade

Shannon Rickett
Legislative Assistant

Transportation

Shannon Rickett
Legislative Assistant

Urban Affairs

Shannon Rickett
Legislative Assistant

Veterans

Ashley Nichols
Legislative Assistant

Welfare

Shannon Rickett
Legislative Assistant

Women

Shannon Rickett
Legislative Assistant

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Harold Rogers
Votes: 195,408
Percent: 77.9%
Kenneth Stepp
Votes: 55,447
Percent: 22.1%
2012 PRIMARY
Harold Rogers
Unopposed
2010 GENERAL
Harold Rogers
Votes: 151,019
Percent: 77.42%
James Holbert
Votes: 44,034
Percent: 22.58%
2010 PRIMARY
Harold Rogers
Unopposed
2008 GENERAL
Harold Rogers
Votes: 177,024
Percent: 84.11%
Jim Holbert
Votes: 33,444
Percent: 15.89%
2008 PRIMARY
Harold Rogers
Unopposed
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (77%), 2008 (84%), 2006 (74%), 2004 (100%), 2002 (78%), 2000 (74%), 1998 (78%), 1996 (100%), 1994 (79%), 1992 (55%), 1990 (100%), 1988 (100%), 1986 (100%), 1984 (76%), 1982 (65%), 1980 (67%)

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