Tom Graves was born in St. Petersburg, Florida on February 3, 1970. He graduated from Cass High School of Cartersville, GA, where he played linebacker and offensive guard on the school football team. Graves earned his Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Georgia. After college, he bought a landscaping company before working in real estate investment. Graves lives in Ranger, Georgia, southeast of Dalton.
In 2007, Graves and former Georgia Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers took out a loan from Bartow County Bank to purchase and renovate a motel in Calhoun. In 2011, it was reported that Bartow County Bank had sued Rogers and Graves for defaulting on their $2.2 million bank loan. They countersued the bank in response. In August 2011, both parties dismissed their claims before going to hearing, settling the dispute out of court, and no details of the settlement were disclosed. Graves received criticism in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on the grounds that the outcome of this business venture appeared to some individuals to undermine his stated commitment to fiscal responsibility.
Tom E. Shanahan retired as Representative to Georgia's 10th District in 2002, and Graves won as his successor with 60 percent of the vote. Graves later ran, unopposed, to serve as House Representative to Georgia's 12th district in 2004. He was re-elected, after two races in which he ran against primary challenger Bill Pickett in 2006 and unopposed in 2008.
Graves served on the Transportation, Ways and Means committee and on the Health and Human services committee during his tenure in the Georgia House of Representatives. He also served as Vice Chairman on the Motor Vehicles committee.
As a member of the Georgia House, Graves supported legislation to provide tax cuts and tax credits, including introducing the Jobs, Opportunity and Business Success (JOBS) Act of 2009.
Graves was named Legislator of the Year in 2009 by the American Legislative Exchange Council. Later that year, he was awarded the Guardian of Small Business award by the National Federation of Independent Business.
In May 2010, Graves won a special election to replace Republican US House Representative Nathan Deal. On June 8, 2010, Graves won the run-off for the special election against former state Senator Lee Hawkins. Graves then faced Hawkins two more times, in another primary election and run off before winning the November 2, 2010 general election unopposed. Upon his election, Graves joined the House Republican Whip team, which he later left in 2011. In January 2013, Graves rejoined the Whip team, and is a member as of 2014.
Graves’ home in Ranger was drawn into the newly created 14th district—essentially, the northwestern portion of his old district—during the 2012 census. He opted to run for reelection in the newly created district. The 14th was no less Republican than the 9th, and Graves won the November 6, 2012 election against Democratic challenger Daniel “Danny” Grant with 73 percent of the vote.
Graves received 74 percent of the vote in the Republican primary against activist Kenneth Herron. He faced no general election opposition.
Graves received 76 percent of the vote in the Republican primary against perennial candidate Allan Levene and activist Mickey Tuck. He faced no general election opposition.
Graves endorsed Senator Marco Rubio in the 2016 Republican Presidential Primary. In the same statement, Graves snubbed now-President Donald J. Trump: "I have trouble seeing how he lines up with the great tradition of Lincoln and Reagan, and I'm concerned that many of his statements run afoul of the Constitution, my values and my beliefs."
Tom Graves endorsed Senator Marco Rubio in the 2016 Republican Primary. In the same statement he mentioned now-President Donald J. Trump: "When it comes to Donald Trump, I don’t feel like I really know the man or what he truly believes on various issues. Unfortunately, given the developments this weekend, it turns out that my hesitations were well founded. I have trouble seeing how he lines up with the great tradition of Lincoln and Reagan, and I'm concerned that many of his statements run afoul of the Constitution, my values and my beliefs. Then there's a simpler test: would I be comfortable if my three children acted like Trump? Certainly not. If you're a Trump supporter in Georgia's 14th District, I can relate to your frustration and your deep desire to end business as usual in American politics and government. I respect that and agree with you. But it might be worthwhile to consider some of the same questions that I have had about Trump. With all the noise and emotion that surrounds any election, it's easy to get distracted and caught up in the moment.."
Graves is a pro-life politician and voted in 2011 to limit funding to Planned Parenthood. He has stated that he opposes abortion "without exception", including when the mother's life is at stake. In 2013, Graves voted in support of a bill which allowed abortions after 20 weeks post-fertilization if a mother's life is endangered, or if conception occurred through rape or incest. Notably, Graves did not receive an endorsement from the Georgia Right to Life PAC in the 2016 primary.
Graves was endorsed by the Atlanta Tea Party in 2010. He authored the Defund Obamacare Act in 2010 and reintroduced the bill in the 112th and 113th Congress.
Conservative Blogger Erick Erickson stated in 2014 that Graves has now become a “judas goat” leading conservatives to the political slaughterhouse: “Graves’s rapid support for McCarthy can only be seen as opportunistic,” Erickson wrote, adding: “The conservative love affair with Graves was already waning. It is time to just end it. Let’s see what he gets for himself by trading the veneer of conservatism.”
Graves co-sponsored a balanced-budget amendment in both the 112th and 113th Congresses and supported the Cut, Cap and Balance Act of 2011, which aimed to reduce federal spending and establish caps in future spending. The same year, Graves introduced the HOME Act to allow Americans to make withdrawals from their retirement accounts to pay timely mortgage payments in 2011. He also voted against removing US troops from Afghanistan in March 2011. Graves introduced the Transportation Empowerment Act (TEA) in 2011, meant to lower the federal gas tax to 3.7 cents per gallon and transfer nearly all funding authority to U.S. states over a period of five years. Graves voted in favor of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act in 2013, which funded the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project in its expansion of the Savannah Harbor shipping channel from a depth of −42 feet to −47 feet. He also authored the Email Privacy Act with Representatives Kevin Yoder and Jared Polis. Graves led the national movement to defund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") in 2013.
Graves is a member of the United States House Committee on Appropriations. In 2014, he was selected to serve as chairman of the Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch for the 114th Congress. His membership also includes the subcommittees on Defense and Financial Services and General Government.
Graves is a member of the House Congressional Chicken Caucus, the House General Aviation Caucus, the Joint Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, the House Congressional Balanced Budget Amendment Caucus, the House Republican Study Committee and the House Congressional Diabetes Caucus.
Graves and his wife Julie, a schoolteacher, have three children, and are active members of Belmont Baptist Church in Calhoun, Georgia.