The Big Conversation
U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Amarillo, could be a lot closer to gaining the chairmanship of one of Congress' most powerful committees — House Armed Services.
A report from Politico has current Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon deciding whether to retire at the end of his term. If he does, the California Republican expects Thornberry to succeed him.
“The chairman has been impressed with Mr. Thornberry — he finds him to be a thoughtful and insightful leader,” McKeon’s chief of staff, Alan Tennille, told Politico. “For those reasons, he expects him to be the next chairman.”
The Politico report goes on to note: "The Texas Republican, from a defense-heavy district where V-22 Ospreys are built, is the natural choice to succeed McKeon, given his current position as the committee’s vice chairman. But two other Republicans on the committee, Reps. Randy Forbes of Virginia and Mike Turner of Ohio, have often been mentioned as possibilities by defense lobbyists and industry sources."
A former aide to Lubbock Congressman Larry Combest, Thornberry was first elected to Congress in 1994. He has already filed for re-election and has drawn two primary challengers — Elaine Hays of Amarillo and Pam Barlow of Bowie. Hays told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal last month that she is running because “my primary concern is that Mr. Thornberry no longer reflects the interests of our district.”
The top position on Armed Service is coveted because it is the largest committee in the House with oversight over the Defense Department and its more than a half-trillion-dollar budget. But as the National Journal wrote this summer, the position has lost some luster in a Congress dominated by budget cuts.
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