House Republican urges colleagues to slow down in picking new Appropriations chief

One of the 12 subcommittee chairs on the powerful House Appropriations Committee is calling for the Republican Party to hold off on a speedy election for the panel’s next leader.

Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), chair of the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees funding for departments of Labor and Health and Human Services, urged his colleagues in a Wednesday later to hold off on a planned vote to replace Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), who will retire from Congress at the end of this year.

Granger urged colleagues in March to choose a replacement for her as chair of the Appropriations Committee “as soon as possible” so that she could step aside from leading the panel that controls federal spending and help a new chair transition into the role. The House Republican Steering Committee is expected to consider a new chair for the panel when Congress returns next week.

Aderholt, however, said Republicans first needed to agree on a broader strategy for spending bills before selecting a new chair.

“We cannot continue to push the boundaries of what Members will or will not accept without first understanding what we are trying to accomplish as a Conference,” he wrote in a letter to his colleagues Wednesday.

“Instead of hastily selecting a new Appropriations Chair, I believe that now is the time to focus on correcting the process and developing our theory of government on how we will manage our responsibilities,” he said. “Our Conference must work together to define a clear direction forward before choosing a Chairman to lead us there.”

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), head of the subcommittee that crafts funding for transportation and housing programs, is seen as an early favorite for the coveted seat, having thrown his hat in the ring for the position not long after Granger’s announcement. 

Aderholt hasn’t officially said whether he is also seeking the seat but is one of the committee’s senior most members.

In a statement obtained Wednesday by The Hill, Cole pushed back against the party delaying efforts to secure a replacement at the top of the committee.  

“Congressman Aderholt is a friend and a colleague with whom I have worked on the Appropriations Committee for many years. We respect each other, and I value his opinion and decisions,” Cole said. 

“However, we are at a critical point in time. We must not delay electing a new Chair of the Appropriations Committee, as it is necessary that we proceed with the fiscal year 2025 appropriations process to produce the best possible bills to responsibly fund the government and keep the American people safe from threats both at home and abroad,” he added. 

House Freedom Caucus Chair Bob Good (R-Va.) also called for the party to hear more from contenders for the spot before the Steering Committee meets. 

“Before the Steering Committee meets, the entire Republican Conference should hear from candidates on how they plan to advance [fiscal] 2025 appropriations in a way that achieves real conservative policy wins and doesn’t result in missing the deadline by six months,” he told The Hill in a statement Wednesday.

Granger’s announcement arrived shortly after the House passed a $1.2 trillion government spending package for fiscal 2024, funding the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Labor, Health and Human Services, and State, as well as general government, financial services and foreign operations.

Its passage capped off months of tense bipartisan spending negotiations in the divided Congress, as well as intraparty fights in the House, where hard-line conservatives came out strongly against the funding package.

Before Congress left for recess last month, the House Appropriations Committee held multiple hearings to prepare for fiscal 2025, as many Republicans are anxious for another try at further restraining government funding and securing conservative policy changes.

“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 FY25 bill development begins in earnest,” Granger said at the time. 

Granger said then that she planned to “remain on the Committee as Chair Emeritus to lead as a teacher would, providing advice and counsel for my colleagues when it is needed.”

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