2018 Election Opens Up HASC, SASC Memberships

The results of the Nov. 6 midterm elections, from the Democratic takeover of the House to the extra GOP pickups in the Senate, will be reflected in the two chambers’ armed services committees.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Democrats had taken control of 222 House seats and the Republicans control 196, with 418 out of 435 seats declared.

Members of the House Armed Services Committee markup the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. (Image: C-SPAN)

Members of the House Armed Services Committee markup the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. (Image: C-SPAN)

Twelve House Armed Services Committee (HASC) members are leaving this term either to retire or seek higher office, leaving key positions up for grabs in the new Congress. Already known departures included Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam), current ranking member of HASC subcommittee on readiness, who lost her primary election.

HASC Democratic Reps. Beto O’Rourke (Texas) and Colleen Hanabusa (Hawaii) will also be leaving their seats come January after losing their races for Senator and state governor, respectively.

Two HASC members are competing against each other in a race that remains undecided as of deadline Wednesday. Reps. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) are vying for retiring Sen. Jeff Flake’s (R) seat.

In addition to those anticipated departures, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), chair of the Military Personnel subcommittee, lost his race Tuesday against Democrat Jason Crow.

Meanwhile, HASC member Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) will take Republican Sen. Dean Heller’s seat, opening up another position on the committee.

The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) lost two senior Democratic members Tuesday night, leaving several ranking member positions open come January. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) lost to Republican businessman Mike Braun by nearly 10 percentage points, according to the Associated Press. Donnelly, a former congressman who joined the Senate in 2013, is currently the ranking member of the SASC Strategic Forces subcommittee, and also serves on the Airland subcommittee.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) lost to Republican Josh Hawley, currently the state’s attorney general. First elected to the Senate in 2006, she serves as the ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, and is a member of the SASC Airland, Personnel and Cybersecurity subcommittees.

The committee could lose a third Democrat as Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) has called for a recount in his election against Republican Gov. Rick Scott, as of Defense Daily’s deadline Nov. 7. As of press time, Nelson trailed Scott by some 30,000 votes, or less than a percentage point, but it remains to be seen whether his request for a recount will be approved.

A former astronaut, Nelson is currently the Cybersecurity subcommittee ranking member and also served on the Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee. He was among the more prominent lawmakers opposed to the Trump administration’s Space Force proposal.  

All three SASC Republicans up for reelection this year – Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas), Deb Fischer (Neb.) and Roger Wicker (Miss.) won their races, while Independent Sen. Angus King of Maine was also reelected.

SASC Democrats Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Martin Heinrich (N.M.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Tim Kaine (Va.) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) each handily beat their Republican opponents.

While Senate and House leaders will select new committee membership by January, it is widely expected that SASC leadership will remain the same – with Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) as chairman and Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) as ranking member – and that HASC ranking member Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) will take the gavel, switching places with Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas).





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