As Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) became the sixth House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Republican to announce retirement at the end of this Congress, it has created openings for younger members but also leaves a significant gap in experience on the panel, according to a Roll Call report.
Thornberry, who served two Armed Services chairman terms before becoming ranking member in the 2018 midterms, has been a consistent Pentagon supporter and a hawk on many defense fronts, including increased military spending.
Thornberry’s retirement announcement is expected to prompt a race for succession with Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) poised to become the most senior GOP member, according to the report.
“I am grateful to have served with Representative Mac, a champion of many conservative victories promoting peace through strength,” Wilson said in a statement.
The next most senior prospects are Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), the report said.
Other GOP members who have announced retirement include Rob Bishop (R-Utah), Mike Conaway (R-Texas), Paul Cook (R-Calif.), Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.), and Paul Mitchell (R-Mich.), with Bishop as the third-ranking Republican and Conaway the sixth, according to the report.
Should Democrats retain the House in 2020, a big GOP leadership factor includes how well the next ranking member works with Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the report said.
Smith and Thornberry have worked together on the typically bipartisan committee for several years.
Smith praised Thornberry on Monday saying he has “always been impressed with his intelligence and tenacity,” according to the report.
“Together we have passed smart reforms that give our men and women in uniform the resources they need to make our country safer,” Smith said in a press release.
DOD photo by Army Sgt. James K. McCann