Over a quarter of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) membership will shift in the 116th Congress as five new Republicans are expected to take over for their exiting colleagues.
Sens. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) are now on SASC, Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a Jan. 3 press release.
Former GOP members who have left the committee in the new year include Sens. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.).
The Republican appointments ensure that several states with a significant military presence will retain representation on the Senate Armed Services Committee even after their Democratic members lost reelection races in November.
Rick Scott, formerly the governor of Florida, beat Nelson after a lengthy recount battle. Florida houses multiple U.S. Air Force bases, including MacDill AFB, the home of U.S. Special Operations Command. The U.S. government launches national security payloads from Cape Canaveral Air Station near Patrick AFB, and the growth of space industry in the region has led to it being dubbed “the Space Coast.” Nelson, an Air Force veteran and former astronaut, was a longtime cybersecurity proponent who most recently served as ranking member of the SASC cybersecurity subcommittee.
Similarly, Hawley’s selection to the committee after he defeated McCaskill ensures that Missouri remains represented. The state is home to Boeing’s [BA] fighter jet manufacturing facilities, as well as other defense and aerospace companies including Honeywell [HON] and 3M Co. [MMM]. An average of $10.5 billion in Defense Department prime and subcontracts are awarded each year to Missouri-based companies, and aerospace manufacturing accounts for over one third of that work, according to the Missouri Partnership, a public-private economic development partnership in the state.
Meanwhile, both of South Carolina’s senators are leaving SASC, losing visibility for state-based company facilities for Boeing and Lockheed Martin [LMT], the latter of which has made significant investments in its F-16 final manufacturing plant in Greenville in recent years. Shaw Air Force Base, home of the Air Force’s largest F-16 combat wing, calls South Carolina home, as does Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort and multiple Coast Guard and National Guard bases.
Texas, home of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter facility along with companies including Textron [TXT] subsidiary Bell, will also lose representation as Cruz is no longer a SASC member, while Nebraska’s delegation is now reduced to one member, Republican Sen. Deb Fischer, who chairs the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee. Additionally, Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), who represents the Fort Worth area near Bell and Lockheed Martin production facilities, dropped to ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee (HAC) panel with the Democrats sweeping into power in the House. In the previous Congress, she chaired the HAC defense panel.
McSally, with her background as an Air Force combat pilot and member of the House Armed Services Committee, was widely expected to join SASC after being nominated by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) to finish Kyl’s term through 2020. Arizona is home to more than 1,200 aerospace and defense companies, including Boeing, General Dynamics [GD], Northrop Grumman [NOC] and Raytheon [RTN], along with seven military bases for the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps.
Cramer, who defeated former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) in the midterm elections, is likely to push for support for the bases in North Dakota, including Minot Air Force Base, the home of U.S. Strategic Command, along with Grand Forks AFB. Northrop Grumman has invested in new facilities over the past few years to support RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial system operations out of Grand Forks, as well as additional unmanned systems development in the region.
Blackburn, a former House member, replaced retiring Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) after winning her November election. As a SASC member she could vouch for defense companies with Tennessee facilities including Beretta, Honeywell, BAE Systems Ordinance and Bell. Tennessee is also home to Arnold Air Force Base, which houses the Arnold Engineering Development Complex and its advanced array of flight simulation wind tunnels and test facilities. The Navy’s Naval Support Activity Mid-South base and three Air National Guard facilities also reside in the Volunteer State.
Senate Democratic Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced earlier in December that Sens. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), and Joe Manchin (D-W.Vir.) would join SASC, replacing three Democratic senators who lost their November reelection races: Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) (Defense Daily, Dec. 13). Subcommittee leaders have not yet been officially named.
116th Congress Senate Armed Services Committee
Chairman: Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.)
Ranking Member: Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.)
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)
Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.)
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.)
Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa)
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.)
Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska)
Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.)
Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.)
Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.)
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.)
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.)
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii)
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Vir.)
Sen. Angus King (I-Maine)
Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.)
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.)
Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.)