Jones’s anti-war position may cost him Armed Services post

Rep. Walter Jones’s (N.C.) position on the Iraq war is likely to keep him out of the Armed Services Committee’s Republican leadership despite his seniority, as the panel’s ranking member mulls who will succeed former Rep. Jo Ann Davis (R-Va.) as Readiness subcommittee ranking member, according to sources on both sides of the aisle.

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A spokesman for Armed Services ranking member Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) said he has yet to make a decision and is working through the process of naming a successor to Davis, who died Oct. 6 following a two-year battle with breast cancer.

Jones most likely will be passed over for the subcommittee’s ranking member position for the second time in the 110th Congress, according to a congressional source familiar with the discussions. The anti-war Republican has been slighted in the past for siding with Democratic leadership on Iraq war resolutions.

Jones said last week through a spokeswoman that he had not discussed the Readiness subcommittee position with Hunter and that his thoughts were with the Davis family.

When asked again about the subcommittee post on Monday, a spokeswoman referred questions to the Armed Services Committee.
Should Hunter choose Jones, it likely would be over the objections of House GOP leadership, who have been unhappy with Jones’s anti-war platform, a GOP leadership aide said.

Additionally, Jones has shown no signs of reversing his rhetoric.

On Tuesday he, along with co-sponsor Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.), will introduce an amendment to the constitutional war powers resolution that would give the Congress more “collective judgment” when sending American troops into a conflict.

Situated behind Jones on the panel are Rep. Randy ForbesJames (Randy) Randy ForbesToo much ‘can do,’ not enough candor Trump makes little headway filling out Pentagon jobs Why there's only one choice for Trump's Navy secretary MORE (R-Va.) and close Hunter ally Rep. Robin Hayes (R-N.C.), who has supported several Hunter initiatives, including several defense industrial-base measures. However, the congressional source indicated that Reps. Joe WilsonAddison (Joe) Graves WilsonGOP braces for intraparty fight on immigration Dems target Trump administration's use of military planes in defense bill debate Trump's effort to secure the border is making America safe again MORE (R-S.C.) and Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) also have been mentioned as potential successors to Davis.

In a March interview with The Hill, Jones expressed disappointment that Hunter decided against selecting him, but said Hunter notified him of the choice in person:

“He came to my office and he said, ‘Walter, if you remember, I was the first Republican to come to your district when you challenged for this seat in 1994.’ He said, ‘I did a breakfast for you at 7:30 in the morning.’ And I said, ‘Yes sir, I remember.’ He said, ‘I have a lot of respect for you, but I don’t agree with you on Iraq and I feel that I must not recommend you for ranking member.’ And I said, ‘Chairman, I’m disappointed, but I’m not mad. But I would ask you, if I’m not going to be ranking member, that you would put me on the oversight committee,’ ” Jones recalled. Hunter did.

Jones since has continued to oppose the war, controlling an hour and 15 minutes of floor time during the February debate on the resolution disapproving of President Bush’s plan to send an additional 20,000-plus troops to troubled areas in Iraq.

Despite his party’s dissatisfaction, Jones has found it easier to get things done for his district by working with Democrats, he said in an April interview with The Hill.

“The times I have asked to meet with a chairman, the door has always been open,” Jones said.

However, Jones has said repeatedly that he did not come to Congress to be in leadership.

“I am an independent. There are issues I vote with my party on; there are issues I don’t,” he said in February.

Roxana Tiron contributed to this report.