Rep. Smith to be top Democrat on House Armed Services panel

Rep. Adam SmithAdam SmithMilitary faces transgender test Overnight Defense: Pentagon lifts transgender ban | Navy says Iran broke law by detaining sailors Dems release parallel Benghazi report ahead of GOP MORE (D-Wash.) will be the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee.

Smith, who garnered the most votes from the Democratic caucus late Thursday, beat out Reps. Silvestre Reyes (Texas) and Loretta Sanchez (Calif.).

In terms of seniority on the panel, Smith was considered second in line after Reyes, even though both joined the committee the same year.

Reyes focused most of his attention on the House Intelligence Committee, which he led. Smith, meanwhile, led the Armed Services Air and Land Forces subcommittee. He has overseen some of the Pentagon's highest-profile programs, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the new refueling tanker and the Army's new Ground Combat Vehicle.

Sanchez led the subpanel on terrorism and unconventional threats. She gave Smith a much closer race than Reyes. Smith won by a final vote of 97-86 late Thursday.

Democrats lost most of their senior lawmakers on the armed services panel in the 2010 election. Reps. Ike Skelton (Mo.), the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, John Spratt (S.C.), Gene Taylor (Miss.) and Solomon Ortiz (Texas) were all defeated in November.