John Spratt

Former U.S. Representative (January 1983- 2011)

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Why He Matters

The longtime congressman from South Carolina's 5th district, Spratt is a conservative Democrat who had a great deal of power in a House run by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Pelosi appointed Spratt assistant to the majority leader when she won that post in 2002 and he was the go-to Democrat on budget issues. Spratt lost his seat to Republican Mick Mulvaney in 2010.

Spratt serves as House Budget Committee chairman and is the second-ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee. A deficit hawk, Spratt worked with President Bill Clinton to balance the budget in 1997 and consistently pushed President George W. Bush to balance the budget as well.

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At a Glance

  • Career History: U.S. Representative (1982 to present); House Budget Committee Chair (2007-January 2011); President, Spratt Insurance Agency (1973 to 1982); Bank of Fort Mill, President (1973 to 1982)
  • Birthday: Nov. 1, 1942
  • Hometown: York, S.C.
  • Alma Mater: Davidson College, A.B., 1964; Oxford University, M.A. 1966; Yale University, L.L.B., 1969
  • Spouse: Jane Stacy
  • Religion: Presbyterian
  • DC Office: 1401 LHOB; 202-225-5501
  • State/District Office: Darlington, 843-393-3998; Rock Hill, 803-327-1114; Sumter, 803-773-3362
  • Web site

Path to Power

Spratt grew up in York, S.C. After graduating from Davidson College, he earned a Marshall Scholarship to study economics at Oxford University and then went on to get a law degree from Yale. He spent two years in the Army after finishing his schooling before returning to York to work as a lawyer.

In 1974, he worked on a losing gubernatorial campaign, which served as his introduction to politics. Even though his candidate lost, it proved a valuable learning experience for Spratt. In 1982, Rep. Ken Holland (D-S.C.) decided not to run for reelection just one week before the filing date. Spratt jumped on the opportunity to run, filing quickly and winning the election.

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The Issues

Spratt is a thoroughly moderate Democrat. A veteran member of the House Budget Committee with a master's degree in economics, Spratt has made a name trying to balance the budget, and eliminating deficits has always been his top priority.

But he's not simply a fiscal conservative. On many issues, he can be difficult to pin down. In 2002, he proposed an alternative to legislation to give the president the authority to go to war in Iraq, but then voted for the final version of the bill authorizing the war after his alternative failed.

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The Network

Thomas Kahn, the staff director and chief counsel for the House Budget Committee, is a veteran Hill staffer who has spent three decades in Congress. He has worked for Spratt for years, but got his start as a legislative assistant for then-Rep Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) in 1978.

Despite the fact that she appointed him assistant to the majority leader in 2002, Spratt broke with Pelosi after the 2006 election, backing the more conservative Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) for majority leader instead of Pelosi's choice of John Murtha (D-Pa.)


Additional Resources

  1. "Decision 2010: South Carolina results," MSNBC, November 2, 2010
  2. Paul Kane, "This year's toughest balancing act," Spratt to unveil deficit-cutting blueprint in two weeks," The Washington Post, March 1, 2007
  3. Almanac of American Politics, 2008 edition
  4. Matt Garfield, "For Spratt, more than one victory at stake this time," The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.), Oct. 29, 2006
  5. Andrew Skerritt, "Attack on U.S. budget; Spratt worries war, tax cuts could up deficit," The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.), April 17, 2003
  6. Calabresi, Massimo and Gibbs, Nancy, "After the Stimulus, Can Obama Tame the Deficit?," Time Magazine, Feb. 19, 2009
  7. Spratt House web site, health care
  8. Andrew Skerritt, "Spratt voices, hears others' concerns on potential war in Iraq," The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.), Jan. 22, 2003
  9. Matt Garfield, "Spratt wins 13th term in Congress," The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.), Nov. 8, 2006
  10. Neil Cavuto, "Interview with South Carolina Congressman John Spratt," Fox News Network, Oct. 20, 2008
  11. Muriel Dobbin, "Iraq resolution Spratt pushes an alternative," The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.), Oct. 9, 2002
  12. Congressional Quarterly's Politics in America, 2008 edition
  13. Huse, Carl, "Budget Passes but Critics Say the Deficit Is in the Details," The New York Times, April 30, 2009
  14. Almanac of American Politics, 2008 edition, and Spratt's official web site