Familiar Faces Take Gavels of Defense Panels

Familiar Faces Take Gavels of Defense Panels

WASHINGTON — For the US national security sector, November’s midterms amounted to a status-quo election — with one glaring exception: Industry irritant John McCain became Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) chairman.

The Nov. 4 Republican tidal wave delivered a bigger GOP majority in the House and control of the Senate. The defense and national security committees in the Senate have new chairmen — but all are familiar faces to the Pentagon and arms manufacturers.

Voters also sent most sitting members of national security committees back to the Capitol. And so far, this familiar-faces-in-new-places arrangement is yielding predictable results.

For defense, the biggest change — and one feared by many in the defense community — will be the new SASC chairman.

McCain is seen on the Hill as a top Pentagon and defense-sector ally. After all, he is perhaps the most vocal proponent of a US foreign policy that includes the widespread use of the American military. And he wants to get rid of the remaining defense sequestration cuts.

But within defense circles, he’s viewed as the sector’s biggest threat.

“Rolling back sequestration is necessary to provide our military the strategy-driven budget necessary to confront the threats we face,” McCain said at the start of a Feb. 4 hearing. “But it will never be enough without reforming how the department procures major weapon systems.

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