Politics & Government

Fort Worth Rep. Kay Granger will lead powerful defense appropriations subcommittee

U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, a Republican from Fort Worth, answers questions from reporters on Capitol Hill in 2014.
U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, a Republican from Fort Worth, answers questions from reporters on Capitol Hill in 2014. AP

Kay Granger built a career in Washington on defense issues, and she became a staunch defender of massive programs like the F-35 fighter jet that brought thousands of jobs to her district.

Now, the longtime Republican congresswoman from Fort Worth, Texas, will lead the subcommittee tasked with hammering out the annual defense appropriations bill.

On Tuesday, Granger was named chairwoman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, where she will make key decisions on the size and direction of the federal defense budget.

“I am honored to be asked to serve as chairwoman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee,” Granger said in a statement. “Much of my work in Congress has focused on national security and foreign policy. So I am ready to go to work on Day One. The challenges facing our nation are serious – terrorism remains a global threat and our military has been reduced during the Obama years. To be safe, we must be strong. I will work with my colleagues to rebuild America’s military. Now is the time to invest in our military and ensure it is stronger than ever.”

Granger served as vice chairwoman of the committee during the 114th Congress and takes the place of Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey, who was named chairman of the entire Appropriations Committee in December. She has served on the spending panel since 1999, two years after entering Congress. Her committee experience includes work on homeland security funding, military construction and foreign operations.

As chairwoman of the subcommittee, Granger will play a key role defending massive defense spending projects like the F-35 that have come under fire from President-elect Donald Trump.

Granger did not support Trump during the election and urged him to step down after a video was released showing Trump making lewd remarks about women.

“We have heard rumors about the insensitive and vulgar things Mr. Trump says about women. But watching that video is disgusting,” Granger said in a statement released a month before the election. “Mr. Trump should remove himself from consideration as Commander in Chief.”

After the election, Granger said she will work with Trump.

Granger’s Fort Worth-based district includes the massive Lockheed Martin assembly plant for the F-35. Lockheed is one of her district’s largest employers and the F-35 program contributes over $5 billion to Texas’ economy.

The company also is her largest campaign contributor over the years, donating more than $400,000 to her leadership and re-election efforts since 1995 – with more than a quarter of that coming in the most recent election cycle, according to data compiled by the non-profit Center for Responsive Politics in Washington.

Overall, Granger is the 2nd top recipient of defense aerospace industry money in Congress, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The defense spending bill totaled $573 billion in 2016.

For months, Granger has been angling to lead the powerful subcommittee, which counts for over 50 percent of total Appropriations Committee funding. The former Fort Worth mayor fended off an intra-party bid from Alabama Rep. Robert Aderholt.

The 12 appropriations subcommittee chairs are considered among the most powerful in Congress for setting the spending agenda. Subcommittee chairs are often dubbed “cardinals” in a nod to the top spiritual leaders of the Catholic Church.

Alex Daugherty: 202-383-6049, @alextdaugherty