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In U.S. House, the far right gains a powerful spending-cuts ally in Texas Republican Kay Granger

By Matthew Choi, The Texas Tribune

In U.S. House, the far right gains a powerful spending-cuts ally in Texas Republican Kay Granger” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, vowed to use her perch atop the House Appropriations Committee to lower future government spending, falling in line with far-right members who recently halted House action over consternation with the growing federal debt.

The U.S. House has already passed an agreement brokered by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden to raise the debt ceiling in exchange for capping next year’s federal spending at current levels. But in a statement Monday night, Granger asserted that the agreement, dubbed the Fiscal Responsibility Act, “set a topline spending cap – a ceiling, not a floor – for Fiscal Year 2024 bills.”

As a result, Granger said, her committee would cap appropriations at fiscal year 2022 levels.

“Because of years of out-of-control spending, it has been and will continue to be my priority to pass conservative bills that focus our limited resources on the core responsibilities of the federal government, including national defense, our veterans, and our border,” Granger said.

Democrats on the committee called the move an about-face that would jeopardize funding for federal programs that are crucial to the survival of some of the most vulnerable Americans. U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar of Laredo, the only Texas Democrat on the committee, said the move would create “deep cuts in many areas.”

Granger’s statement was a partial victory for far-right House members, including several from Texas, who said the Fiscal Responsibility Act betrayed a January agreement to cap spending at 2022 levels in exchange for supporting McCarthy’s bid for speaker. Those members included U.S. Reps. Chip Roy, R-Austin; Keith Self, R-McKinney; and Michael Cloud, R-Victoria.

A dozen of the far-right members, including Roy, went a step further last week and voted against their party on a procedural measure, stopping legislation in its tracks and halting votes in the House for a week, angering moderate Republicans and Democrats.

Granger’s committee is responsible only for money that is doled out annually. The majority of government spending is mandated over multiple years, such as for Society Security, and does not go through the Appropriations Committee.

The House committee has a tight deadline to pass appropriations measures before the fiscal year ends Sept. 30. Congress has failed to meet that deadline for the past 27 years, instead relying on resolutions to buy time and massive spending packages brokered by party leaders without the same input from the rank and file.

The same far-right cadre is also demanding that McCarthy meet the deadline to give all House members a greater say in appropriations.

Congress passed a $1.7 trillion omnibus spending package late last year that increased funding by more than 9% from the previous year. House Republicans, including Granger and Roy, were furious at the package, saying it recklessly contributed to the federal deficit, but it still passed with bipartisan support in the Senate.

Roy vowed at the time to block any priorities passed by Senate Republicans who backed the omnibus — a sentiment behind his move to stop legislative business on the House floor last week.

If the Republican-controlled House approves appropriations bills at lowered levels, the measures would face strong opposition in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Numerous Senate Republicans also supported the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar, D-California, said the disconnect “very well could” lead to a government shutdown if the disagreements aren’t resolved before funding runs out.

“This is an agreement that the speaker made directly, and he took pains, remember, to get everybody else out of the room and to get to a deal with just him and the president, and now he’s walking away from that deal,” Aguilar said. “If it wasn’t so dangerous we’d be laughing.”

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