U.S. Rep. Kay Granger likely will wield the gavel of the powerful Appropriations Committee when the next Congress convenes in January — giving Fort Worth an outsized role on the national stage.

However, Granger’s time as chair overseeing how the federal government spends billions of taxpayer dollars may be short because of the House Republican Conference’s rules

Those rules cap the number of years a House Republican can serve as a ranking member and chair to three consecutive two-year terms. Granger was selected  in 2018 as ranking member, a designation given to the most senior member of the minority party. She has served two of her three terms. The rule has been in place since 1992.

Committee chair decisions are expected to happen as early as this week, according to Politico. The Republican steering committee selects committee chairs.

In a statement to the Fort Worth Report, Granger said she hopes to serve as chair when Republicans take control of the House. 

Previous Republican chairs tend to leave Congress and retire once they hit term limits, according to a study from Brookings, a nonpartisan public policy organization. Brookings found in the GOP-majority years of 2014, 2016 and 2018 that 40% of term-limited Republican chairs retired. 

House Democrats, as well as Senate Republicans and Democrats, do not have term limits for ranking members or chairs.

What’s the GOP’s term limit rule?

Here’s what the House Republican Conference rules state about term limits:

“No individual shall serve more than three consecutive terms as chair or Ranking Member of a standing, select, joint, or ad hoc Committee or Subcommittee.”

House Republicans can seek a waiver to the term limit rule. U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, a North Carolina Republican, is seeking one so she can lead the Education and Labor Committee starting in January. However, it is unclear whether House Republican leaders will grant the waiver, Politico reported.

Regardless of how long Granger holds the Appropriations gavel, Joanne Green, a Texas Christian University political science professor, expects the congresswoman to have significant influence over how Congress allocates funding. Green described the Appropriations Committee as essentially controlling Congress’ pocketbook.

The appropriations chair tends to be a powerful figure in Washington, D.C., because the committee typically has a hand in forming expenditure bills, Green said.

That could help Granger and her priorities, the political scientist added. 

If selected as chair, Granger said she plans to pursue cuts to wasteful spending, bring strict oversight over President Joe Biden and his administration, and focus funding on national security, including the border and military.

The focus on military spending is not a surprise to Green. Granger has served on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and served as chair. In the past, the congresswoman has pushed for additional military funding to build F-35 jets in her district. 

“For her to be chair would be even more beneficial,” Green said. “She’s long served on the subcommittee on defense appropriations and that has been a boon to Fort Worth, given the number of people locally who are retired military, current military as well the people dependent upon military industries for employment.”

Lockheed Martin, which manufactures the F-35, and the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base are among two of Fort Worth’s largest employers, according to the city of Fort Worth. Since World War II, Fort Worth has been a hub for the defense industry.

Besides helping steer dollars to the military, Green sees Granger also trying to direct more money to the long gestating Panther Island/Central City Flood Project

In early 2022, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it would dedicate $403 million to complete the final design and build a 1.5-mile bypass channel to reroute part of the Trinity River. The project would transform a former industrial area north of downtown into modern mixed use development with riverfront views.

Still, the funds were not enough to fund the entirety of the nearly $1.2 billion flood protection project, which is no longer in Granger’s district.

Republicans recently shot down a proposal banning earmarks, funding provisions directed toward a specific project in a lawmaker’s district.

“Fort Worth has done well historically with regard to our representation in Congress getting probably what could be considered an unfair amount of resources locally because we, as the long-term joke goes, we elect them young and re-elect them a long time,” Green said.

Granger was first elected to the House in 1996 and was re-elected in November to a 14th two-year term.

The congresswoman will be continuing a long line of Fort Worth politicians who play a role in shaping national politics, Green said. That line includes Jim Wright, a Fort Worth Democrat who once represented Granger’s district and was the U.S. House speaker.

If selected, Granger would be the first Republican woman to chair the Appropriations Committee. Former Rep. Nita Lowery, a New York Democrat, was the first woman to chair the committee. Granger would succeed current chair Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat.

Green studies the role of gender in American politics. In her research, she has found that women tend to make for different kinds of leaders than men. In Congress, women who have chaired committees tend to focus more on consensus building and allow more time for process.

“The entire dynamics of the committee tends to change when there’s female leadership,” Green said.

Green expects Granger, one of the most senior Republican House members, will be one of the most important Texans in the House. No Texans will be in the top leadership positions. However, other Texans are likely to chair some committees. 

Granger does not have the gavel of the Appropriations Committee yet. House Republicans have not selected committee chairs. However, Green would not bet against the congresswoman.

“Nothing’s guaranteed, but it’s a great high probability because normally the person who’s the ranking member just returns to the same position and, as their party becomes the majority, they just become the chair,” Green said.

Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise journalist for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at jacob.sanchez@fortworthreport.org or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Jacob SanchezEnterprise Reporter

Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise reporter for the Fort Worth Report. His work has appeared in the Temple Daily Telegram, The Texas Tribune and the Texas Observer. He is a graduate of St. Edward’s University....