Politics

Granger’s Son Retracts Comments on Mom’s Appropriations Post

Fort Worth officials seek federal dollars to complete ‘Panther Island’ flood prevention, development plan

Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, will become the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee in January. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Kay Granger’s son is walking back comments he made earlier this week in which he expressed optimism that his mom’s new post on the Appropriations Committee would help him secure federal funding to finish a controversial city flood-protection project in Fort Worth, Texas.

J.D. Granger, the executive director of the Trinity River Vision Authority, also backtracked on his suggestion that his mother, an 11th-term Texas Republican, would retire upon the project’s completion.

“Regretfully, I misspoke in a recent interview referring to Congresswoman Granger retiring after the federal funding has been secured for the Central City Project,” J.D. Granger said in a statement to Roll Call.

“The Congresswoman is looking forward to providing her constituents with the same strong leadership she has been known for since being elected to Congress over twenty years ago. While the Congresswoman’s recent appointment in the House Appropriations Committee is great news for Fort Worth, it does not guarantee the remaining federal funds needed to complete the project. We will continue to work with Congress to secure federal money for this important flood control project.”

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On Monday, Granger was selected by GOP leadership to be the next ranking member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee that is responsible for passing the 12 government spending bills each year. Part of that spending package includes approving projects for federal assistance through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

J.D. Granger, the congresswoman’s son, has led Fort Worth’s “Panther Island” flood prevention project.

As part of the plan, architects will dig and fortify an extra channel to bypass a dogleg in the Trinity River just north of downtown. When connected with the river’s natural dogleg, the channel will create a new island, “Panther Island,” where officials have planned to install flood protection gates and prime nearly 2,400 acres of land for economic development opportunities.

The project has taken more than 15 years and blown past the original projected budget of $360 million. Local officials have estimated that they will need an additional $400 million in federal aid to complete the project. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers excluded the Panther Island project from its list of projects to fund in 2019. The House and Senate appropriations committees have ultimate authority to decide what projects the Corps funds.

“Today is a great day. ... This is the day we have been looking for right now,” J.D. Granger said in an interview with NBC Dallas-Fort Worth on Monday. “Our goal, our commitment to this community, was to get this project on autopilot. When this thing is on autopilot we both get to retire. I’m out of here,” he said, suggesting his mother could retire once the project is completed.

But in a follow-up statement to Roll Call, the congresswoman’s spokeswoman said Granger’s appointment to lead Republicans on the Appropriations Committee does nothing to change her view of the project. She also said its completion would have no bearing on her future in Congress.

“Panther Island has been a priority of Congresswoman Granger’s for many years. Her appointment as Ranking Member doesn’t change the importance of the project for the citizens of Fort Worth,” a spokeswoman for Granger said in a statement. “The Congresswoman looks forward to completing this project and continuing to serve the people of Fort Worth in Congress. She is not retiring.”

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