Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) officially took over as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) on Wednesday evening, in a unanimous consent vote on the Senate floor that set the chairmen, ranking members and committee membership for all major committees.
“It is a singular honor to be given the great responsibility of leading the Senate Armed Services Committee,” McCain said in a statement after the vote. “Ever mindful of our service members in harm’s way throughout the world, the Committee’s first priority is to ensure they have the authorities, leadership, training, equipment, and resources needed to successfully achieve their missions on our nation’s behalf and return home safely to their families. That commitment is at the heart of the Armed Services Committee’s long-standing bipartisan tradition, which I look forward to upholding in partnership with Senator Jack Reed as Ranking Member.”
In addition to naming Reed as his full committee ranking member, McCain on Thursday announced the chairmen and ranking members of each SASC subcommittee. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), an Army veteran and a first-term senator who previously served in the House, will chair the air-land subcommittee, with Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) as his ranking member. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) will lead the emerging threats and capabilities subcommittee. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) will lead the personnel subcommittee. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) will lead the readiness subcommittee. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) will lead the seapower subcommittee. And Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) will lead the strategic forces subcommittee.
McCain also announced that his first hearing as chairman would be with Henry Kissinger, “the first in a series of hearings with prominent former government officials and military leaders on global challenges to U.S. national security strategy,” according to a news release.
Kissinger, a former national security adviser and secretary of state, will appear before the committee on Jan. 13 at 2:30 p.m.
Another early hearing will be the confirmation hearing for Ashton Carter, the nominee to become the next defense secretary. The Pentagon released a statement Thursday saying, “Secretary Hagel met at the Pentagon this afternoon with Dr. Ashton Carter, as Dr. Carter begins to prepare for the confirmation process. The meeting gave both leaders a chance to get reacquainted and to discuss wide-ranging issues of importance to the Defense Department. This was the first face-to-face meeting between Secretary Hagel and Dr. Carter since Dr. Carter’s nomination as the next Secretary of Defense.”
McCain told Defense Daily the confirmation hearing would take place the first week of February, the earliest date possible after allowing Carter to recover from a medical procedure.