WASHINGTON ― New power-sharing rules for Senate Democrats are shaking up the Senate Armed Services Committee, with some junior authorizers taking prized subcommittee chairmanships.
Sen. Angus King, I-Maine., ceded the Airland gavel to Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., ceded the Emerging Threats and Capabilities gavel to new Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., passed King the gavel for Strategic Forces, which oversees nuclear weapons, missile defense, space programs and arms control.
As reported by CQ, the power shifts were the result of a new rule in the Democratic caucus aimed at giving more junior senators greater influence in committee business. The rule prevents chairmen of so-called “A” committees, such as Appropriations and Armed Services, from claiming subcommittee gavels until all of a committee’s Democrats get a chance to claim one.
On Armed Services, the rule has allowed junior members to leapfrog more senior members, with more institutional knowledge, such as Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
It could offer added visibility and responsibility for Duckworth, an Army helicopter pilot wounded in Iraq, and Kelly, a Navy pilot and a retired NASA astronaut who is up for reelection in 2022 ― or shift some power toward the full committee chairman, Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I.
Kelly unseated Republican Sen. Martha McSally, who represented Arizona, a major recipient of defense contracts, during her two-year Senate tenure. The subpanel has oversight of the Pentagon’s research and development, special operations, intelligence and counterterrorism efforts.
“I look forward to working with Republicans and Democrats on the subcommittee to get our military the tools it needs, strengthen security cooperation with our partners and allies, and counter threats from adversaries like China who seek to expand their sphere of influence,” Kelly said in a statement.
“This leadership position will also enable me to work closely with commanders leading critical missions in Arizona and across our country that allow us to retain our competitive edge as a nation.”
Peters, earlier this month, became chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, where he plans to lead an investigation into the security and intelligence failure that resulted in the breaching of the Capitol.
Below is a full list of subcommittee leaders.
Subcommittee on Airland
Chair: Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.
Ranking Member: Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.
Subcommittee on Cybersecurity
Chair: Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
Ranking Member: Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D.
Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities
Chair: Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz.
Ranking Member: Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa
Subcommittee on Personnel
Chair: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.
Ranking Member: Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C.
Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support
Chair: Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va.
Ranking Member: Sen. Dan. Sullivan, R-Alaska
Subcommittee on Seapower
Chair: Sen. Maizie Hirono, D-Hawaii
Ranking Member: Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.
Subcommittee on Strategic Forces
Chair: Sen. Angus King, I-Maine
Ranking Member: Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb.
Joe Gould is the senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He served previously as Congress reporter.