Republicans Say Default Wouldn’t Be So Bad

National Journal
Megan Scully
See more stories about...
Megan Scully
Oct. 8, 2013, 6 p.m.

Up­dated at 4:50 p.m. on Novem­ber 3, 2010. In what some have called a “dooms­day scen­ario,” voters have ous­ted the most seni­or Demo­crats on the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee in a ma­jor house­clean­ing that will dra­mat­ic­ally re­shape the struc­ture of the power­ful pan­el.

Chair­man Ike Skelton of Mis­souri, Rep. John Spratt of South Car­o­lina and Seapower Sub­com­mit­tee Chair­man Gene Taylor of Mis­sis­sippi — the first, second and fourth most seni­or Demo­crats on the com­mit­tee — were all de­feated Tues­day.

It also ap­pears that the No. 3 Demo­crat, Read­i­ness Sub­com­mit­tee Chair­man So­lomon Ort­iz, lost his race by about 800 votes. But the 14-term Demo­crat, who has long had a strong­hold on his south­ern Texas dis­trict, has not yet con­ceded.

These old stal­warts have been a fix­ture in the top row of the Armed Ser­vices hear­ing room for a dec­ade and have served as power­ful, mod­er­ate voices on a com­mit­tee that prides it­self on bi­par­tis­an ac­tion.

Their losses will ush­er in a new class of seni­or Demo­crats on the pan­el at a crit­ic­al time for the war in Afgh­anistan and for the Pentagon budget, both of which will re­ceive in­tense scru­tiny from law­makers over the next sev­er­al months.

Ort­iz had long been thought to be the most likely and lo­gic­al suc­cessor to Skelton. But if he loses reelec­tion, it will open a race for rank­ing mem­ber of the full com­mit­tee.

One pos­sib­il­ity, a Demo­crat­ic source said, is House In­tel­li­gence Chair­man Sil­vestre Reyes, D-Texas. Reyes’s can­did­acy will hinge on the fi­nal out­come of Ort­iz’s race, as two Texas Demo­crats in the His­pan­ic Caucus would be un­likely to battle pub­licly for the same post.

Reyes also could bring with him some of his staff on the In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, which would res­ult in sig­ni­fic­ant job-shuff­ling with­in the Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, the source said. After Demo­crats took con­trol of Con­gress in 2006, the com­mit­tee re­tained much of its staff des­pite the switch in party con­trol.

In a sig­ni­fic­ant shift from Skelton’s lead­er­ship, Reyes as rank­ing mem­ber could be a huge boon for the Army on a com­mit­tee that has long been skep­tic­al of that ser­vice’s ef­forts to mod­ern­ize its equip­ment and has of­ten led ef­forts to slash fund­ing for its key pro­grams.

Reyes’s dis­trict in­cludes Fort Bliss, the Army base where the ser­vice has tested many of its new­est tech­no­lo­gies. In May, the sev­en-term Demo­crat suc­cess­fully fought to re­store more than $100 mil­lion in cuts the com­mit­tee made to sev­er­al tech­no­lo­gies the ser­vice is sal­va­ging from the can­celed Fu­ture Com­bat Sys­tems pro­gram.

His spokes­man, Vin­cent Perez, de­clined to dis­cuss the law­maker’s op­tions. “At this point, it’s pre­ma­ture to spec­u­late about fu­ture lead­er­ship roles,” Perez said in an e-mail to Na­tion­al Journ­al. “Con­gress­man Ort­iz’s race has not been called yet, and Chair­man Reyes is hope­ful his good friend will re­turn for an­oth­er term.”

Reyes may not be the only Demo­crat with eyes for the party’s top slot on the com­mit­tee.

Air and Land Forces Sub­com­mit­tee Chair­man Adam Smith, D-Wash., would be next in seni­or­ity after Reyes and is con­sidered by both parties to be a rising star on the com­mit­tee. Smith’s race has not been called yet, but he is ahead. If Reyes is in­ter­ested in the post, however, it would be dif­fi­cult for Demo­crats to jump over a more seni­or His­pan­ic mem­ber to choose Smith for the job.

One Demo­crat­ic aide said there have been rum­blings that Rep. Rob An­drews, D-N.J., could at­tempt to leapfrog sev­er­al oth­er mem­bers to claim Skelton’s old job. An­drews is in charge of the com­mit­tee’s ac­quis­i­tion re­form pan­el and has be­come a stronger voice on the com­mit­tee in re­cent years.

If An­drews were to be­come rank­ing mem­ber, he could “ham­mer the Re­pub­lic­ans but do it in a bi­par­tis­an way,” the aide said.

An­drews is clearly am­bi­tious. In 2008, he un­suc­cess­fully chal­lenged in­cum­bent Sen. Frank Lauten­berg, D-N.J., in a di­vis­ive primary.

“If his­tory is any in­dic­a­tion, he does not shy from a chal­lenge,” the aide said.

As Demo­crats weigh who will lead them on the com­mit­tee in the next Con­gress, the shake-up for the com­mit­tee’s mem­ber­ship did not stop at the top row. Sev­er­al oth­er Demo­crat­ic in­cum­bents — in­clud­ing Glenn Nye of Vir­gin­ia, Jim Mar­shall of Geor­gia, and Car­ol Shea-Port­er of New Hamp­shire — also lost reelec­tion.

Re­pub­lic­ans will con­trol the gavel in the next Con­gress, but the in­flux of a new class of Demo­crats on the com­mit­tee could prove chal­len­ging.

“It doesn’t be­ne­fit us if there’s that much turnover” be­cause it re­places Demo­crats on the com­mit­tee Re­pub­lic­ans have good re­la­tion­ships with, a GOP source said.

Who re­places them will be the ques­tion many in the Pentagon, the de­fense in­dustry and Cap­it­ol Hill will be ask­ing today and in the weeks to come.

 

 

What We're Following See More »
PROCEDURES NOT FOLLOWED
Trump Not on Ballot in Minnesota
2 days ago
THE LATEST
MOB RULE?
Trump on Immigration: ‘I Don’t Know, You Tell Me’
2 days ago
THE LATEST

Perhaps Donald Trump can take a plebiscite to solve this whole messy immigration thing. At a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity last night, Trump essentially admitted he's "stumped," turning to the audience and asking: “Can we go through a process or do you think they have to get out? Tell me, I mean, I don’t know, you tell me.”

Source:
BIG CHANGE FROM WHEN HE SELF-FINANCED
Trump Enriching His Businesses with Donor Money
4 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.

Source:
QUESTIONS OVER IMMIGRATION POLICY
Trump Cancels Rallies
4 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.

Source:
‘STRATEGY AND MESSAGING’
Sean Hannity Is Also Advising Trump
5 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump's Fox News brain trust keeps growing. After it was revealed that former Fox chief Roger Ailes is informally advising Trump on debate preparation, host Sean Hannity admitted over the weekend that he's also advising Trump on "strategy and messaging." He told the New York Times: “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. I never claimed to be a journalist.”

Source:
×