House Democratic leaders have decided Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., should keep his seat as the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, meaning the senior members of that panel will remain unchanged in the new Congress.
“I am pleased that my colleagues selected me to serve another term, and as our country continues to face great challenges, I am committed to standing up and fighting for the national security goals and principles of our caucus,” Smith said in a Wednesday statement.
Smith said he looks forward to continuing to work closely with Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., whom House GOP leaders in mid-November announced would remain as the HASC chairman. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, will be the HASC vice chairman.
McKeon and Smith agree on many issues, such as a robust Defense Department budget and a strong military industrial base. But sparks have risen at times between them since they assumed their current positions.
With most in Washington expected some level of further Pentagon spending cuts, and with the Obama administration looking to entrench a number of policy preferences, observers will be wise to monitor whether those sparks, at times, erupt into a partisan fire on a panel that long has prided itself as one of the few remaining cones of bipartisan and goodwill on Capitol Hill.
The members of the House and Senate Armed Services committees that will serve on a conference committee that will hammer out a final 2013 defense authorization bill will be named next week, a senior HASC aide tells Defense News.
The Senate, after months of delay and five days of floor debate, unanimously passed its version of the Pentagon policy and spending legislation Tuesday evening. The House passed its bill months ago.