Lockheed-Funded House Appropriations Chair Vows to Protect Defense Spending

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Texas Republican Rep. Kay Granger, who co-founded the Joint Strike Fighter Caucus in 2011 to fend off funds cuts to Lockheed Martin’s F-35 weapons system, is the brand new chair of the committee that doles out lots of of billions of {dollars} to fund protection contracts.

With Republicans taking management of the U.S. Home, final week Granger took the gavel of the Home Committee on Appropriations, which allocates federal funds and takes the lead on supplemental spending payments all year long. Granger’s management of the committee comes after she was elected its rating member by Republicans in 2019.

The brand new Republican Home majority has launched uncertainty to federal budgeting plans this 12 months, unsteadying even navy spending, which has been on the rise for the previous eight years. In negotiations along with his caucus to turn out to be Home Speaker, Rep. Kevin McCarthy reportedly made a deal that might cap federal spending at 2022 ranges, which might stroll again some $75 billion that was added to the 2023 protection authorization bundle on the finish of final 12 months. Shortly after information of McCarthy’s take care of Home Freedom Caucus members got here out, with the chance that Pentagon outlays can be trimmed from deliberate ranges, shares of protection contractors like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman tumbled.

In Granger, nonetheless, Lockheed Martin and proponents of sky-high Pentagon budgets have a longtime ally atop the Appropriations Committee, one who still belongs to the Joint Strike Fighter Caucus and beforehand co-chaired the bipartisan group. The troubled F-35 fighter’s principal manufacturing facility is an Air Power plant in Fort Value, a part of the North Texas district that Granger has represented since 1997.

After McCarthy’s election, Granger put out a statement pushing again, stating that she doesn’t plan to chop navy spending.

“I sit up for working with Speaker McCarthy, the remainder of our management, and different full committee chairs to chop wasteful spending whereas sustaining our nationwide safety priorities,” Granger stated. “There have been reviews that Home Republicans assist reducing our nationwide protection. Let me be clear — this Home Republican doesn’t assist that place.”

Granger’s desire for navy spending over time has resulted in a stream of marketing campaign contributions from high protection contractors. The protection sector has given her campaigns almost $2.4 million over her profession, in accordance with OpenSecrets’ rely of worker and PAC donations—probably the most of any present Home member, together with the brand new chair of the Home Armed Companies Committee, Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama.

Lockheed Martin’s workers and PAC have been by far Granger’s high donors, combining for almost $800,000 given to her campaigns to this point. Practically $200,000 of that quantity got here within the 2020 election cycle, when Granger was the top recipient of Lockheed workers’ and PAC donations amongst all Home members. Within the final cycle, Granger’s donations as of Oct. 28, 2022 positioned her third amongst Home members, simply behind Rogers.

Now in her fourteenth time period within the U.S. Home, the protection aerospace trade has been the highest trade contributing to Granger’s campaigns, with greater than $1.3 million given in accordance with OpenSecrets. Different protection contractors whose workers and PACs have mixed for six-figure whole donations to Granger over her profession embrace Raytheon, Textron, Common Dynamics, and Northrop Grumman.

Rising Army Spending

For fiscal 12 months 2023, the quantity Congress licensed for protection spending reached a document $858 billion, protection coverage analyst Stephen Semler documented, a rise of about 15% over the ultimate protection funds below the Trump administration. Final month, Granger praised the transfer by lawmakers in each events to hike the quantity licensed for 2023 by a whopping $45 billion above the Biden administration’s request, highlighting the function of protection contractors in her district. The journal Accountable Statecraft reported not too long ago that Granger’s contractor-dense district noticed revenue of $12 billion from protection in 2021.

Granger put her stamp on protection spending as a co-founder of the bipartisan Joint Strike Fighter Caucus, alongside former Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash). In letters like one signed by 132 representatives within the earlier Congress, the caucus lobbied towards cuts being thought-about to the F-35 stealth plane and its sprawling packages, warning that scaling again the F-35 would result in a capabilities hole with “adversaries like China and Russia.” The F-35 stands as over a decade delayed and $165 billion over funds, as tracked by the nonpartisan watchdog Mission On Authorities Oversight (POGO).

Dan Grazier, senior coverage protection fellow at POGO, instructed Sludge, “The choice to extend F-35 manufacturing ranges needs to be primarily based on testing outcomes alone. The F-35 program nonetheless hasn’t accomplished the preliminary operational testing interval, and officers have but to say when they can full all of the testing occasions. Till the exams will be accomplished and the outcomes are correctly evaluated, any proposal to sink more cash into this system needs to be closely scrutinized.”

Within the a hundred and fifteenth Congress of 2017-2018, Granger chaired the Protection Appropriations Subcommittee. As a “vocal supporter of vital weapons packages” together with Lockheed’s F-35, Granger’s Home website makes her place clear: “These packages are integral to our nationwide safety and play a significant function in our navy’s offensive and defensive methods.” In 2020, she welcomed the Air Power Secretary and Sen. Ted Cruz on a tour of the F-35 facility, and has advocated for protection spending with reporters whereas cheering Lockheed Martin on social media and touting the F-35 fighter.

A spending bundle handed by Congress on the finish of December and signed into legislation to fund the federal government by means of September directs $8.5 billion to buy 61 of the F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin. The costliest weapons system in historical past, the whole that Congress has licensed for the defect-plagued F-35 over its lifetime is greater than $1.7 trillion.

Revolving Door

A 2018 report from POGO, Brass Parachutes, counted the exodus of former federal authorities workers, together with senior congressional employees, to turn out to be lobbyists at protection contractors—influence-peddling that aids weapons corporations in touchdown protection contracts.

Granger’s new place stands to profit a lot of her former Home staffers, who’ve gone by means of the revolving door and now foyer for protection contractors—together with a longtime Lockheed Martin lobbyist and government who controls the corporate’s PAC.

Robert Head, vice chairman for state authorities and political affairs at Lockheed Martin, started working for Granger in November 2000 as a legislative assistant, lobbying disclosures present. Head labored as Granger’s chief of employees from March 2006 to April 2009, in accordance with lobbying records. Instantly after leaving Granger’s workplace, he registered to foyer for Lockheed. Final 12 months, Head lobbied on points together with the protection appropriations act and “plane, helicopter, expertise packages.” Within the 2020 election cycle, Head grew to become treasurer of the Lockheed Martin PAC, a job he held within the 2022 cycle as nicely. Granger’s marketing campaign continued to obtain the per-cycle most of $10,000 from Lockheed’s PAC, because it had in earlier elections, in accordance with FEC information, and Head donated a complete of $7,300 to Granger over the previous two cycles.

In 2021, Lockheed Martin was thirteenth total in spending on lobbying Congress and federal businesses, shelling out greater than $14.4 million, forward of the broadband trade’s high foyer group and the AARP. That 12 months, Lockheed Martin acquired $64.5 billion in protection contracts, in accordance with a tally by Defense News, making up nearly all of its income.

Lockheed Martin didn’t reply to a request for touch upon how Granger’s former chief of employees would work together along with her workplace and the Home of Representatives in his lobbying actions.

One other former chief of employees to Granger, Chelsey P. Hickman, lobbies Congress on protection appropriations with the bipartisan agency Successful Methods Washington for purchasers together with AVX Plane, which develops vertical carry designs for business and navy functions, in addition to protection producer Frontier Polymers and protection options supplier Marotta Controls.

Krister Holladay was Granger’s chief of employees, and now in accordance with his LinkedIn profile works because the director of legislative affairs for navy logistics firm American President Strains, the place he lobbies the Home and Senate on protection appropriations.

Former Granger chief of staff Barry Brown lobbies Congress on protection appropriations and “points affecting protection procurement” with the agency Alpine Group Companions for purchasers with navy enterprise together with manufacturing firm Eaton Company.

Jordon Sims, one other former Granger chief of employees, is a lobbyist and founding accomplice at Imperium World Advisors, which touts its expertise in lobbying on the Nationwide Protection Authorization Act (NDAA) for its purchasers. Certainly one of Sims’ lobbying purchasers, software program methods firm Industrial Defender, examined cybersecurity funding areas within the $858 billion protection coverage invoice in a blog post final month. The cybersecurity agency was acquired by Lockheed Martin in 2014.

A former communications director for Granger from October 2017 to January 2019, Kevin Boland, held positions for a pair years at Lockheed Martin, in accordance with his LinkedIn profile, together with in worldwide authorities affairs. In late 2021, he took a place at Saab, and lobbied Congress final 12 months for the protection contractor on problems with protection appropriations.

Former Republican Nationwide Committee chair Ken Melhman was Granger’s first chief of employees, and now’s the accomplice, international head of public affairs for personal fairness large Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR). In 2019, KKR acquired protection and aerospace producer Novaria Group, which final 12 months acquired a sheet metallic manufacturing firm whose protection purchasers embrace Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.

Granger’s present chief of employees, Steve Ruhlen, is a former lobbyist whose purchasers have included tobacco firm Reynolds American and JPMorgan Chase. After a 2015 stint as interim chief of employees to Granger, Ruhlen lobbied in 2017 on behalf of software program supplier SAS Institute concerning information analytics within the Division of Protection, then joined lobbying agency Complete Spectrum. He returned to work as Granger’s chief of employees in April 2022, in accordance with his Linkedin profile.

Granger’s Home workplace didn’t reply to a request for touch upon how, as Appropriations chair, the congresswoman would pursue oversight of the F-35 program and different areas of navy spending.