The Cardinal of Westwood
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Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Lewis confers with
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
1999, Lewis has chaired the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee,
managing the largest part of the nation's discretionary budget each
year. "I never in my life expected to be in this position,"
he says. "This is such a significant time in military history;
we have really turned the armed forces around in recent years."
the outset of his chairmanship, Lewis attracted national attention
when his subcommittee voted unanimously to cut $1.8 billion from
funding to build the first of six of the Air Force's prized F-22
stealth fighters. After a fierce battle, some of the funding was
restored, and Lewis says the fight actually helped to improve communication
between Congress and the Pentagon.
have played a small role in insisting that our defense work take
place in a nonpartisan environment," says Lewis. "Our
approach led to conflict and some tough discussions, and it has
let the military know we are asking some serious questions."
chair, Lewis was able to increase the annual appropriation for defense
for the first time in more than a decade and has overseen annual
increases for the past three years. But he is quick to downplay
his accomplishments and his position of power in Washington. "After
a great week in Washington, I go home to California and I walk across
my pool," he jokes. "I still fall in every time."
Bourn '96, who as a student interned in Lewis' Washington office
and has for the past three years been a legislative assistant and
systems manager, says, "It is no stretch to use the word 'family'
when you talk about this staff." He notes that while turnover
is high in other Capitol Hill offices, many on Lewis' staff have
been with him for 10 to 20 years.
of the congressman's big sayings is, 'It's amazing what you can
accomplish when you don't worry about who is getting the credit,'"
says Bourn. "That really says it all about how he works."