How the $1.3 trillion spending bill could help Fort Worth

Deep inside — past the money for border security, infrastructure improvements and funding to boost election security — lies allocations geared to benefit Fort Worth.

U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, touted money for military spending, which saw the largest boost in 15 years, as well as for projects ranging from putting metal detectors at schools to continuing efforts to develop the Trinity River Vision, a long-term plan to transform the near north side across the river from downtown.

“I love this bill,” said Granger, who heads the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

Not everyone was as happy.

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Critics say the bill is bloated and a classic example of federal government overspending.

“I think it‘s not good for the American taxpayer, and it‘s not consistent with — in any way close to consistent with what we said we would do when they elected us in 2016,” U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican and member of the House Freedom Caucus, .

U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Pilot Point, said the measure “provides necessary funding” for the military and federal government.

“While I am relieved that Congress delivered on our responsibility to fund our national defense and the crucial services upon which North Texans and all Americans rely, I acknowledge that the appropriations process is deeply flawed,” he said.

The U.S. House passed the bill Thursday and sent it to the Senate, which approved the measure early Friday morning, avoiding another government shutdown.

Granger pointed out some programs for which she helped secure funding.

Military equipment: That includes funding for 90 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, 14 V-22 Ospreys, two C-40 aircraft for the Marine Corps, 29 Bell AH-1Z “Viper” helicopters and six C-130s for the National Guard. It also includes $1.3 billion for National Guard and reserve equipment.

“Fort Worth has many companies and employees who build the very best military hardware, and the omnibus provides $134 billion for new military equipment and upgrades,” said Granger, who plans to vie for chair of the House Appropriations Committee next year.

“In total, it appropriates $654.6 billion for the Department of Defense,” she said. “Importantly, this legislation also contains the funding flexibility that I believe is necessary to ensure that the taxpayer’s money is spent wisely.”

Trinty River Vision: There‘s an undetermined amount for the Trinity River Vision, a project that would divert the river and create an urban lake with a waterfront just north of downtown, one of the biggest public works projects ever to come to Fort Worth.

School safety: This bill includes $25 million for schools to buy metal detectors in fiscal year 2018 and $33 million between fiscal years 2019 and 2028. Granger last month proposed a “Security Children in Schools Act” that would create a federal grant program to help pay for and install metal detectors at public elementary, middle and high schools. Granger said this funding is a good start. “We will keep trying to increase the overall amount for safety in schools,” she said.

Other allocations: Granger noted that the bill grows infrastructure funding by $21.2 billion, allocates $68.8 billion for Veterans Administration medical care that includes metal health and homeless veterans services; earmarks nearly $8 billion for FEMA to help respond to natural disasters; sets aside nearly $4 billion to fight opioid abuse; and dedicates $685 million to expand internet services and broadband to rural communities.

This spending bill is geared to keep the government running through the end of September.

U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, was among those who opposed the measure in the House.

“I promised my constituents that I would work each and every day on their behalf to drive down the national debt, secure our borders, and get the federal government out of their lives – today’s omnibus fulfills none of those promises,” said Williams, whose district stretches from the edges of Tarrant County to Austin. “I could not, in good conscience, vote to spend $1.3 trillion in taxpayer funds that would further threaten the welfare and prosperity of Americans for generations to come.”

Anna Tinsley: ,


The world won‘t end if Washington can‘t find a way to pass a funding bill before this weekend. That‘s the truth about a government “shutdown”: the government doesn‘t shut down. McClatchyAP