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Granger to hand off House Appropriations gavel early

Calls for GOP steering panel to select new chair after giant spending bill passage

Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, leaves a House Republican Conference meeting at the Capitol Hill Club on Jan. 30.
Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, leaves a House Republican Conference meeting at the Capitol Hill Club on Jan. 30. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Appropriations Chairwoman Kay Granger, R-Texas, announced Friday that she would be stepping down from the position early, kick-starting a race for the coveted position. 

In a letter to Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., Granger wrote that she would transition to a chairwoman emeritus role after the House Republican Steering Committee selects a new chair, while serving out the rest of her term. She’d previously announced her retirement from Congress after the upcoming elections.

“Recognizing that an election year often results in final appropriations bills not getting enacted until well into the next fiscal year, it is important that I do everything in my power to ensure a seamless transition before the [fiscal 2025] bill development begins in earnest,” Granger wrote.

[Granger won’t seek reelection in 2024]

She sent the letter within hours of the House passing its final spending bills for the current fiscal year, which are nearly six months overdue.

Granger’s early exit sets up a scramble to replace her on top of the committee, with Transportation-HUD Appropriations Chairman Tom Cole, R-Okla., considered her likeliest replacement.

Cole made his interest official in a statement Friday, and Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., the Defense subcommittee chairman, quickly endorsed him. 

“Tom is a friend, a scholar, a conservative, and a patriot,” Calvert said in a statement. “There is no better person to carry on the important work of our committee than Tom Cole and I look forward to his selection as the next chairman.”

However, others, including Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Chairman Robert B. Aderholt, R-Ala., could seek the position. 

Notably, Aderholt opposed the massive $1.2 trillion spending package that the House passed under suspension of the rules Friday, citing earmarks benefiting the LGBTQ community and hospitals that perform abortions that senators had secured. Cole voted for the bill. 

Along with Cole, Aderholt ran for the position in 2018 before losing to Granger. Aderholt has said he’d consider a run to be her successor, but he didn’t comment on future plans in a statement Friday, focusing instead on praise for the departing chairwoman.

It wasn’t yet immediately clear when the Republican Steering Committee would meet to select the committee’s new leader, though it seems unlikely that will occur until after the upcoming two-week recess. It’s possible other current panel members also join the race.

Granger, 81, announced late last year her plans to retire. She was the first Republican woman to chair the powerful spending committee, and has been the top Republican on the panel since 2018.  

She also was notably part of a cadre of appropriators who played a major role in blocking House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan’s ascent to the speakership in October.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., said Granger is a “giant amongst her peers,” in a Friday statement following Granger’s announcement. 

“The country is more secure, resilient and better off due to her selfless and tireless work as the Chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee,” Diaz-Balart said.

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