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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Appropriations Chair Kay Granger not seeking re-election

Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX) casts her vote as the House of Representatives votes for a third time on whether to elevate Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) to Speaker of the House in the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 20, 2023, in Washington, D.C.    (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America/TNS)
By Todd J. Gillman and Joseph Morton Dallas Morning News

WASHINGTON – Fort Worth Rep. Kay Granger announced Wednesday she will not seek re-election next year, leaving Congress after 14 terms.

“Serving my community has been the greatest honor, and I have always fought to improve the lives of my constituents,” she said in a statement.

Elected in 1996 Granger, 80, has served longer than any other woman, or Texan, in the House GOP conference.

She noted a litany of milestone “firsts” that have marked her career, from serving as Fort Worth’s first female mayor to being the first Republican woman elected to the U.S. House from Texas.

She’s the first Republican woman to chair House Appropriations, which oversees more than $1 trillion a year in spending.

It’s among the most powerful positions in Congress, and she’s used it to look out for her home district. She has been a staunch proponent of continuing production of the F-35s built at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth facility and she has secured funding for the $1.1 billion Trinity River Vision/Central City flood control project, which got a $403 million federal boost a year ago.

“I have been able to accomplish more in this life than I could have imagined, and I owe it all to my incredible family, staff, friends, and supporters,” Granger said. “The United States of America is the greatest country in the world because of our people and the vision of our Founding Fathers who created a nation that ensures every man, woman and child has the opportunity to succeed.”

Granger was one of the three Texas Republicans who recently blocked House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio from becoming speaker. She voted repeatedly for Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana on the floor rather than back Jordan, who was the official GOP conference nominee.

During the speaker fight she got a stray vote for speaker herself, although she was not seeking the position, from Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa.

“She has demonstrated great leadership this year by bringing forth, and passing, fiscally responsible, single-subject appropriations bills and is a staunch conservative,” Miller-Meeks said in explaining her vote.

Granger came to Washington as a pragmatist and an avowed moderate.

She spent six years on the Fort Worth city council, the last four as mayor, adamantly declining to express a party preference. She finally declared herself a Republican four months before the 1996 congressional primary.

As the House GOP shifted right, along with her district – local Republicans tout Tarrant County as the most conservative urban county in the nation – Granger showed the flexibility of a political survivor.

Early on she vocally supported abortion rights and portrayed herself as a “pro-choice Republican,” as GOP rivals liked to point out. By the 2020 campaign, she’d earned a 100% rating from National Right to Life and the group’s endorsement.

Her relationship with Donald Trump likewise evolved.

When the Access Hollywood tape surfaced four weeks before Election Day 2016, Granger labeled Trump’s boasts about uninvited sexual contact with women “disgusting” and called on him to step down as the GOP nominee.

Trump carried her district by a 30-point margin on the way to the White House.

Granger avoided public clashes after that.

With attacks from the right ramping up, Granger joined Trump at Game 5 of the World Series in October 2019. Days earlier at a rally at American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Trump gave her a shout-out: “We have a woman who’s fantastic, who’s been a fan of ours right from the beginning, Kay Granger.”

In fact, Granger had endorsed Jeb Bush in the 2016 primaries, but she never sought to correct him.

The influential conservative group Club for Growth named Granger their top primary target in 2020.

The Protect Freedom PAC – formed by allies of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and dedicated to supporting “pro-freedom and pro-liberty candidates” – pumped $1.1 million into the primary trying to topple Granger.

She prevailed 58-42.

She won her first election by defeating another former Fort Worth mayor, Democrat Hugh Parmer, taking a seat held until a few years earlier by House Speaker Jim Wright, a Democrat who’d resigned in scandal.

Texas wouldn’t elect another Republican woman to a full term in the U.S. House for 24 years, when Irving’s former mayor, Beth Van Duyne, won her seat.

“As I announce my decision to not seek re-election, I am encouraged by the next generation of leaders in my district,” Granger said. “It’s time for the next generation to step up and take the mantle and be a strong and fierce representative for the people.”