A Conversation with Chaka Fattah

A Conversation with Chaka Fattah


The political landscape changed dramatically on Nov. 2 for Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., the audacious, skip-to-his-own-beat Philadelphia lawmaker hoping for tightened polls that evening — just enough to hold off an expected Republican takeover of the House.

His original plan was to embark on an ambitious, long shot bid for Chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, overseeing $1.4 trillion in discretionary funding and finding ways to push education as a top priority.

As the Grand Old Party amassed big gains that night, plans changed.

That didn’t really deter Fattah from his dream to run things on “Approps” as Capitol Hill rats affectionately abbreviate it.  He simply went into minority ranking member mode, still intent on openly defying the Democratic Party’s Congressional seniority system.

Hopes for ranking member glory were dashed, however, when Fattah’s own Congressional Black Caucus gave the appearance of an endorsement for Dicks, who is white and has served in the House since 1976. It was a saddening and unexpected blow to Fattah, himself a longtime CBC Member.

But, in a recent exclusive interview with Politic365.com’s Washington Correspondent Charles D. Ellison on The New School on Sirius/XM satellite radio, Fattah was upbeat and pleased with his conciliation prize: ranking member of House Appropriation’s subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, a decent look worth $70 billion in discretionary funding and a chance to transcend the urban politics typically associated with Philly’s most senior Congressional Member.

The new slot gives Fattah the ability to oversee commerce issues, but to also provide oversight of the Justice Department and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) which is undergoing a dramatic change as a result of plans to privatize space flight.

“Competition is a good thing,” says Fattah, also jovial that the controversial tax cut deal he endorsed in opposition to the CBC was about to pass.