Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen assumes the chairmanship of the defense subcommittee of the US House Appropriations Committee. (File)
WASHINGTON — America’s weapons makers got their man.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., on Wednesday announced Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., will chair the panel’s defense subcommittee. He assumes the gavel from the late Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young, R-Fla., who passed away last month.
The announcement should please executives in Rosslyn, Tysons Corner, Crystal City and throughout the halls of the US defense sector as Frelinghuysen has received large amounts of defense-sector campaign donations over the years.
An examination of data dating to 2009 by the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics shows Frelinghuysen has received tens of thousands in campaign cash from companies like Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, SAIC, Finmeccanica, Honeywell International and others.
In fact, as Young’s health steadily declined in recent years, the center’s data shows the amount of campaign donations from defense firms to Frelinghuysen, long Young’s heir apparent, steadily increased from campaign cycle to campaign cycle.
For instance, for the 2011-2012 campaign donations reporting cycle, he received more donations from the pharmaceutical/health products sector, electric utilities, retired individuals and lobbyists than from defense firms.
But already in the 2013-2014 cycle, three of the top five sectors that have donated to Frelinghuysen, as broken down by the center, are defense-related. Donations from the defense electronics sector total $23,500, with the defense aerospace sector contributing $16,500,and “miscellaneous defense” giving him $13,500.
The defense electronics donations trail electric utilities, which have donated $27,480 so far. And both defense electronics and defense aerospace sectors have overtaken pharmaceutical/health products donors, who have provided $15,500, according to CRP.
Notably, Northrop was not among the New Jersey Republican’s top-five contributors in the 2009-2010 cycle. But by the 2011-2012 cycle, Northrop had vaulted to the top spot. For the current cycle, Northrop and SAIC have donated an equal amount, $10,000.
Finmeccanica and Honeywell once could be found in his top five. But in a reflection of the gavel the sector correctly expected him to inherit, defense behemoths Northrop and Lockheed Martin have elbowed their way in.
The move likely will draw the ire of government and campaign-finance watchdogs, but it is a win for a defense sector still struggling to adjust to the sequestration era.