In a move that would propel him into the ranks of congressional leadership, U.S. Rep. Jim Ryun is seeking the chairmanship of the House Budget Committee.
"It's an opportunity to rein in government and provide savings," said Ryun, R-Kan. He represents the state's 2nd Congressional District, which includes the west half of Lawrence.
Ryun has served three terms on the committee, which sets taxing and spending goals for the federal government. House chairs generally have the power to set the agendas for their committees.
Paul E. Johnson, a Kansas University political science professor, said the committee had its greatest influence in the 1990s, when the first Bush and Clinton administrations were seeking to balance the federal budget.
In recent years, Johnson said, the federal deficit has ballooned - federal spending is expected to outpace revenues by nearly $1.6 trillion over the next five years - while budget committee guidelines have been ignored.
"The committee chairman is important because (he or she) sets out the framework in which the appropriations process occurs," Johnson said, "but the targets the budget committee makes are not vigorously enforced."
Ryun said he hopes to bring back discipline to the federal budget process.
"I believe I can carry the message," he said. "I believe in fiscal responsibility. We need to look out for the interests of this country and make sure (the budget) is well-planned and well-spent."
Also on the House Budget Committee: U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore, D-Kan., who represents the east half of Lawrence. Moore was out of the country Wednesday and unavailable for comment.
Ryun doesn't have a clear path to the post. The Hill, a Washington, D.C., newspaper, reported that U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., also is seeking the job.
The position, Ryun said, doesn't carry direct benefits to Kansas but is important, nonetheless.
"The decisions we make have an impact on families and businesses," he said. "Those will all indirectly and directly affect Kansas constituents."