WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans on Wednesday announced their slate of committee assignments, placing three new members on the Armed Services Committee. The committee will consist of 13 Democrats and 12 Republicans, though the Democratic roster remains unchanged.
Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., will continue to chair the committee and Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi will replace former Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma — who retired last year — as the top Republican on the panel.
“During the most dangerous time since the Cold War, it is crucial to work as partners to enhance deterrence and counter our adversaries for the long haul,” Wicker said in a statement after Senate Republicans revealed their committee assignments.
With Inhofe gone, freshman Republican Markwayne Mullin will continue representing Oklahoma on the panel alongside fellow newcomers Sens. Ted Budd, R-N.C., and Eric Schmitt, R-Mo.
The senior North Carolina and Missouri Republicans, Thom Tillis and Josh Hawley, have left the committee, making way for the junior senators from their respective states. Tillis had previously served as the top Republican on the panel’s personnel subcommittee. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., is also leaving the Armed Services Committee, joining Tillis on the Financial Services Committee instead.
The Republican leader on the committee has set an ambitious goal for military spending. Wicker has previously said he would like defense spending at 5% of gross domestic product — amounting to approximately $1.3 trillion.
That sort of massive increase is unlikely to come to fruition with Democrats in control of the Senate and House Republican leaders agreeing to $130 billion in overall spending cuts for the fiscal 2024 budget.
The full Senate will likely ratify committee assignments in the coming days, and subcommittee announcements are expected later this week.
Bryant Harris is the Congress reporter for Defense News. He has covered U.S. foreign policy, national security, international affairs and politics in Washington since 2014. He has also written for Foreign Policy, Al-Monitor, Al Jazeera English and IPS News.