Who Runs Appropriations? Girls!

A look at the first all-female appropriations leadership line-up

Cue some Beyoncé because a historic shift is about to take place on Capitol Hill.

Late last night, Republicans and Democrats struck a deal on the fiscal year 2022 $1.5 trillion government spending bill. Alongside its completion are the tenures of two powerhouse Senate appropriators: current Chairman Pat Leahy (D-VT) and Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL). Both Senators announced their retirement and are bidding adieu to the tedious, tenuous and—more often than not—delayed annual appropriations process. Their farewell performance was one for the record books with the sweeping government funding package allowing portions of the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to take effect and providing nearly $14 billion in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine following the February 24 Russian invasion.

But there is another historic narrative unfolding around this epilogue too – the leadership makeup of the spending panel in the 118th Congress. Taking the presumptive reigns in the Senate—based on the current makeup of the upper chamber—will be Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Susan Collins (R-ME). Together with current House Appropriations Chairman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Ranking Member Kay Granger (R-TX), Washington is eyeing an all-female appropriations lineup for the first time ever! While the November midterm elections may flip-flop the chairs and ranking members, it would not change the historic significance of women-led House and Senate Appropriations Committees.

The phrase, “What’s past is prologue” comes to mind as Cogent Strategies celebrates Women’s History Month and provides a look back on these long-time appropriators’ past subcommittee assignments and their respective focal areas within each. Look for these topics to receive special funding attention in 2023 should these women control the “four corners” of appropriations. 

Focus Areas of Leadership on Appropriations Committees and Subcommittees



  • Labor, HHS, Education (Chair)

    FOCUS: childcare and universal pre-K, public health infrastructure and workforce, Title X family planning and paid leave

  • Defense

    FOCUS: defense infrastructure, sexual assault prevention, VA caregivers

  • Energy and Water Development

    FOCUS: Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), water infrastructure, salmon recovery

  • Homeland Security

    FOCUS: special immigrant visa (SIV) applications, medical treatment of migrants

  • Transportation, Housing and Urban Development

    FOCUS: housing in tribal communities, ferries and ferry electrification, waterway and port infrastructure



  • Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (Ranking Member)

    FOCUS: infrastructure, homelessness/affordable housing, lead abatement

  • Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA

    FOCUS: rural broadband, agriculture research, forest products industry

  • Commerce, Justice and Science

    FOCUS: lobster industry, fisheries, local police and fire departments

  • Defense/Mil-Con VA

    FOCUS: increase size of U.S. Navy fleet, cybersecurity, VA mental health services and hospitals

  • Energy and Water Development

    FOCUS: energy storage, PFAS mitigation, Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)



  • Full Committee (Chair)

    FOCUS: apprenticeships, clean and renewable energy, defense manufacturing jobs

  • Labor, HHS, Education (Chair)

    FOCUS: public education and accessible higher education, biomedical research, women’s health

  • Agriculture, Rural Development

    FOCUS: food safety and inspection service, addressing climate crisis with agriculture and farmers, child nutrition programs



  • Full Committee (Ranking Member)

    FOCUS: renewable and conventional energy, biomedical research, infrastructure

  • Defense

    FOCUS: weapons programs and defense manufacturing jobs, pay increases and expanded benefits for servicemembers and families, border security

  • Energy and Water Development

    FOCUS: flood control

  • State, Foreign Operations

    FOCUS: Israel, human trafficking

***main subcommittee assignments for the 117th, 116th and 115th Congresses


Shellie Purvis keenly navigates domestic federal funding legislation for clients and provides guidance on international relations. Phoebe Ferraiolo previously served as deputy press secretary for Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), working in the Senator’s office for nearly four years. Whitney Gulvin supports Cogent’s digital, public relations and government relations teams with high-impact legislative research and analysis as well as digital analytics.

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