Cotton, Ernst to join Armed Services panel

Senate Republicans on Tuesday announced their assignments for the powerful Armed Services Committee in the 114th Congress, packing the panel with freshmen lawmakers, many from military backgrounds.

The five GOP freshmen joining the panel include Sens.-elect Tom CottonTom CottonPuerto Rico’s statehood win was a ruse House bill threatens Russia with nuclear treaty suspension Cotton: US policy should be regime change in Iran MORE (Ark.), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Mike Rounds (S.D.), Dan Sullivan (Alaska) and Thom TillisThom R. TillisThe Hill's Whip List: GOP undecided, 'no' votes pile up on ObamaCare repeal bill Lawmakers celebrate National Selfie Day on Twitter Navy leaders defend Trump's lackluster ship budget MORE (N.C.).

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Cotton served in the Army during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Ernst served in Iraq as a lieutenant colonel with the Iowa National Guard and will be the first female combat veteran in the Senate

Sullivan was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.

Meanwhile, Tillis and Rounds represent states with major military installations.

The GOP hammered Democrats on national security issues ahead of the November midterm elections, where they captured the Senate and built their biggest House majority in decades.

In a widely expected move, Sen. John McCainJohn McCainOvernight Defense: Senate panel passes defense policy bill | House panel presses on with markup | Trump officials say WH statement prevented Syria chemical attack | NATO pledges to raise spending Senate panel passes 0B defense policy bill GOP infighting erupts over healthcare bill MORE (R-Ariz.), one of President Obama’s chief critics, will head the panel.

The promotion gives McCain, a Vietnam War veteran, a perch to oversee the Obama administration’s national security policy, including the campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the nomination of Ashton Carter to be the next Defense Secretary.

The assignments are subject to ratification by the Republican Conference as well as the full Senate, according to the GOP. 

Republicans will have 14 seats on the Armed Services panel to 12 for Democrats, reversing the committee's current makeup.

Sens. Mark Udall (Colo.) and Kay Hagan (N.C.), two current committee members, both lost their reelection bids, while Chairman Carl LevinCarl LevinTrump's crush on foreign autocrats threatens democracy at home OPINION: Congress must press forward with its Russia investigation Democrats and Republicans share blame in rewriting the role of the Senate MORE (Mich.) and Sen. Saxby ChamblissSaxby ChamblissFormer GOP senator: Let Dems engage on healthcare bill OPINION: Left-wing politics will be the demise of the Democratic Party GOP hopefuls crowd Georgia special race MORE (R-Ga.) are retiring.

Democrats on Friday announced that Sen. Jack ReedJack ReedSenate panel passes 0B defense policy bill Dems push for more action on power grid cybersecurity 3 tips for President Trump before he outsources his duties to Mattis MORE (R.I.) would become the committee’s ranking member and Sen. Martin HeinrichMartin HeinrichDems push for more action on power grid cybersecurity The Memo: Five takeaways from Jeff Sessions’s testimony Overnight Cybersecurity: Sessions denies Russia collusion | First agency gets 'A' grade on IT | Feds out North Korean botnet | Unusual security update for Windows XP MORE (N.M.) would join the panel.