Military

Rotorcraft Focus May Shift in US House, as Defense Budgeting Committee Chair Changes Hands

By Frank Wolfe | November 7, 2018
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U.S. Capitol

U.S. Capitol

While nearly all of the U.S. senators and representatives on the respective defense appropriations committees retained their seats at the polls Nov. 6, Democratic control of the House to begin in January will mean new leadership of the House Appropriations Committee (HAC) and its defense panel.

Rep. Nita Lowey will likely assume the chairmanship of the full committee, while Rep. Kay Granger, a backer of such programs as the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey and the Bell AH-1Z Viper, will give up her chairmanship of HAC-D, likely to Rep. Peter Visclosky, the current ranking member of the HAC subcommittee on defense (HAC-D). Bell has facilities in Fort Worth and Amarillo, Texas.

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Visclosky has received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from such companies as Lockheed Martin, L-3 and Northrop Grumman, but he has advocated balancing defense needs with domestic ones and spending with revenues on hand.

"Senior military leaders have testified that arresting the erosion of our military’s competitive advantage requires real budget growth of at least three percent above inflation through 2023 and that increasing that competitive advantage would require even higher growth," Visclosky said in September. "I agree with the assessment that we need to make smart investments in our military, but I do not believe a growth rate of that magnitude is sustainable. Unless we act responsibly on the revenue side of the budget and address entitlements in a meaningful fashion, the money will not be there."

For her part, Lowey has advocated a similar approach in balancing defense with non-defense budgets.

None of the incumbent HAC-D members won by less than 60 percent of the vote, except for Rep. John Carter who won re-election with about 51 percent of the vote.

On the Senate side, Sen. Jon Tester, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee, appeared to have narrowly edged Republican Matt Rosendale at press time.

Earlier this year, Tester secured new firefighting buckets for Montana Army National Guard CH-47 and UH-60 helicopters after forest fires swept through more than one million acres in Montana in 2017.

Two Democratic incumbents on the Senate Armed Services Committee's Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, Sen. Claire McCaskill and Joe Donnelly, lost their bids for re-election, while Sen. Ted Cruz retained his seat.

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