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Smiles -- So Far -- At HASC's First Meet

UPDATED with subcommittee assignments at bottom: Comity, good fellowship, patriotism -- all these were on stark display Wednesday as the House Armed Services Committee held its first meeting of the new Congress. And there were words of encouragement -- and caution -- for the many new members of the committee.

Rep. John McHugh (R-NY), the committee's new ranking member [in the picture], helped capture the tone at the hearing. ":Let me say I hope future meetings are as accommodating as this meeting has been," he said, looking straight at Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), the committee’s chairman. But McHugh also made clear at the beginning of the hearing that he knows things may get a lot tougher very quickly. "I only moved about four or five feet to the right and there are so many more of you over to my right than there were. I'm surprised by that," McHugh said, referring to the Democrats who dominate the right side of the chamber (as you face the audience from a member's seat.)

A quick count of the list shows McHugh was not amiss: there are three more Democrats and three fewer Republicans on the committee this term.

In his opening statement, Skelton included excellent summaries of the primary constituent interests each new member is likely to fight for.

"Let me start with a member who is no stranger to the committee—Mr. Jim Langevin. We welcome him back from his leave of absence from the HASC. Jim served on the HASC during the 107th through 109th Congresses, and for a couple of months during the 110th Congress. We are thrilled to have his energy and intellect back. [Langevin told me he expects to remain a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.]

"Our first new member is Mr. Glenn Nye, representing the 2nd district of Virginia. Glenn represents one of the largest military populations in America. His district includes numerous military installations, including the world’s largest naval station in Norfolk. Glenn is a former Foreign Service officer who served in Kosovo, the West Bank, Afghanistan, and most recently Iraq.

"From the 1st district of Maine we have Ms. Chellie Pingree. Chellie’s district is home to Naval Air Station Brunswick, and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Chellie previously served as the Senate Majority Leader in the Maine Senate representing her island community of North Haven, Maine. We are delighted to have her join the committee.

"Next we have Mr. Larry Kissell from the 8th district of North Carolina. Larry’s district includes part of Fort Bragg, home to the 18th Airborne Corps, the 82nd Airborne Division, Army Special Operations Command, and the Golden Knights. Larry was a high school social studies teacher before joining us.

"From the 1st district of New Mexico we have Mr. Martin Heinrich. The 1st district is home to a sizable defense industry including the Kirtland Air Force Base as well as the Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratory. Prior to winning his congressional race, Martin served as the President of the Albuquerque City Council. Most importantly, Martin was born in Cole Camp, Missouri, in my district.

"Frank Kratovil comes from the 1st district of Maryland—a district home to a significant military and civilian population who work at nearby military installations including Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Fort Meade, Wallops Island, and the Naval Academy. Frank previously served six years as State’s Attorney of Queen Anne’s County on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

"From the 29th district of New York we have Mr. Eric J.J. Massa. Some of us know Eric from his service as a HASC staffer, but Eric is also a retired Navy commander and a former staffer to retired Gen. Wesley Clark. He brings a long resume in military policy and foreign affairs to the committee.

"And, finally, I would like to introduce Mr. Bobby Bright from the 2nd district of Alabama. The 2nd district is home to Fort Rucker and Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base. Bobby was the former mayor of Montgomery, Alabama for nine years and we are very excited to have him with us.

McHugh offered these introductions of the new Republican members on the committee.

“Rep. Mary Fallin was elected in 2006 to represent the 5th District of Oklahoma. Prior to being elected to Congress, Mary held numerous elected offices in Oklahoma, including two terms as a State Representative. She was elected as the first woman and first Republican Lt. Governor for Oklahoma in 1995. Her position on the committee will allow her to work with Rep. Boren to represent the significant military interests in Oklahoma, including Ft. Sill, Vance Air Force Base, and Tinker Air Force Base.

“Rep. Duncan D. Hunter doesn’t need much of an introduction. He was elected to California’s 52nd Congressional District last November. Following 9/11, Duncan volunteered to join the U.S. Marine Corps and has since served three combat tours—two in Iraq with the 1st Marine Division and one in Afghanistan.

“Rep. John Fleming was elected in November to represent Louisiana’s 4th Congressional District, the home of Ft. Polk and Barksdale Air Force Base. John is a family physician and served as a Medical Officer in the United States Navy. We look forward to his contributions to the committee, especially as we grapple with the increasing costs of providing our military men and women—and their families—with world class healthcare.

“Rep. Mike Coffman was elected in 2008 to represent the fine people of Colorado’s 6th Congressional District. As a former soldier and Marine, Mike served in the Gulf War as an infantry officer and in Operation Iraqi Freedom, where he worked with the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraqi (IECI) on two national elections among other duties. It’s worth noting that Mike took a leave of absence from elected positions in Colorado when he twice volunteered to serve his country in combat.

“Rep. Tom Rooney represents Florida’s 16th Congressional District. Tom served in the United States Army JAG Corps, including a stint as the Special Assistant U.S. Attorney on Ft. Hood, and taught Constitutional and Criminal Law at the United States Military Academy. I would be remiss if I did not congratulate Tom for the University of Florida’s second national football championship in three years.

At the end of the hearing I asked McHugh how long he thought the comity would last. He said he hoped it would, and then, with a smile, he urged me not to be so cynical.

After the organizational meeting this morning, the committee met in closed session for several hours this afternoon to pick subcommittee assignments. They follow:

Readiness

o Chairman Solomon Ortiz, Texas

o Gene Taylor, Mississippi

o Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii

o Silvestre Reyes, Texas

o Jim Marshall, Georgia

o Madeleine Bordallo, Guam

o Dan Boren, Oklahoma

o Hank Johnson, Georgia

o Carol Shea-Porter, New Hampshire

o Joe Courtney, Connecticut

o David Loebsack, Iowa

o Gabrielle Giffords, Arizona

o Glenn Nye, Virginia

o Larry Kissell, North Carolina

o Martin Heinrich, New Mexico

o Frank Kratovil, Maryland

o Bobby Bright, Alabama

Seapower and Expeditionary Forces

Chairman Gene Taylor, Mississippi

o Solomon Ortiz, Texas

o Jim Langevin, Rhode Island

o Rick Larsen, Washington

o Brad Ellsworth, Indiana

o Joe Courtney, Connecticut

o Joe Sestak, Pennsylvania

o Glenn Nye, Virginia

o Chellie Pingree, Maine

o Eric Massa, New York

Air and Land Forces

o Chairman Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii

o John Spratt, South Carolina

o Silvestre Reyes, Texas

o Adam Smith, Washington

o Mike McIntyre, North Carolina

o Ellen O. Tauscher, California

o Robert Brady, Pennsylvania

o Jim Cooper, Tennessee

o Jim Marshall, Georgia

o Dan Boren, Oklahoma

o Joe Sestak, Pennsylvania

o Gabrielle Giffords, Arizona

o Niki Tsongas, Massachusetts

o Larry Kissell, North Carolina

o Frank Kratovil, Maryland

o Eric Massa, New York

o Bobby Bright, Alabama

Oversight and Investigations

o Chairman Vic Snyder, Arkansas

o John Spratt, South Carolina

o Loretta Sanchez, California

o Ellen O. Tauscher, California

o Susan A. Davis, California

o Jim Cooper, Tennessee

o Joe Sestak, Pennsylvania

o Glenn Nye, Virginia

o Chellie Pingree, Maine

Terrorism and Unconventional Threats and Capabilities

o Chairman Adam Smith, Washington

o Mike McIntyre, North Carolina

o Rob Andrews, New Jersey

o Jim Langevin, Rhode Island

o Jim Cooper, Tennessee

o Jim Marshall, Georgia

o Brad Ellsworth, Indiana

o Patrick Murphy, Pennsylvania

o Kirsten Gillibrand, New York

o Bobby Bright, Alabama

Strategic Forces

o Chairman Ellen O. Tauscher, California

o John Spratt, South Carolina

o Loretta Sanchez, California

o Rob Andrews, New Jersey

o Jim Langevin, Rhode Island

o Rick Larsen, Washington

o Kirsten Gillibrand, New York

o Martin Heinrich, New Mexico

Military Personnel

o Chairwoman Susan A. Davis, California

o Vic Snyder, Arkansas

o Loretta Sanchez, California

o Madeleine Bordallo, Guam

o Patrick Murphy, Pennsylvania

o Hank Johnson, Georgia

o Carol Shea-Porter, New Hampshire

o David Loebsack, Iowa

o Niki Tsongas, Massachusetts

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