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 CottonHouse bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance Republicans jockey for position on immigration The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (Ark.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstAgricultural trade demands investment in MAP and FMD GOP senator: Trump's rhetoric not to blame for North Korea nuclear threat Rep. Sinema to challenge Flake for Senate seat MORE (Iowa), Mike RoundsMarion (Mike) Michael RoundsOvernight Regulation: Trump temporarily lifts Jones Act for Puerto Rico | Bill would exempt some banks from Dodd-Frank | Senators unveil driverless car bill House sends FAA extension to Trump’s desk with hurricane tax relief Senate passes FAA extension without flood insurance provision MORE (S.D.), Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanLobbying World US draws closer to South Korea with new deployment Pentagon urges Congress to move 6M for missile defense MORE (Alaska) and Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisRepublicans jockey for position on immigration Overnight Cybersecurity: Trump proclaims 'Cybersecurity Awareness Month' | Equifax missed chance to patch security flaw | Lawmakers await ex-CEO's testimony | SEC hack exposed personal data Tillis-Lankford amnesty proposal is a betrayal of the American people 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 Sidney McCainRubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad with pro-communist posts The VA's woes cannot be pinned on any singular administration Overnight Defense: Mattis offers support for Iran deal | McCain blocks nominees over Afghanistan strategy | Trump, Tillerson spilt raises new questions about N. Korea policy 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 LevinPresident Trump, listen to candidate Trump and keep Volcker Rule Republicans can learn from John McCain’s heroism Trump and GOP wise to keep tax reform and infrastructure separate MORE (Mich.) and Sen. Saxby ChamblissSaxby ChamblissLobbying World Former GOP senator: Let Dems engage on healthcare bill OPINION: Left-wing politics will be the demise of the Democratic Party MORE (R-Ga.) are retiring.

Democrats on Friday announced that Sen. Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Raymond ReedTop general says Iran complying with nuclear deal Top general: Transgender troops shouldn't be separated from military Dems ask FEC to create new rules in response to Russian Facebook ads MORE (R.I.) would become the committee’s ranking member and Sen. Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichThe Hill's 12:30 Report New Mexico Gov: GOP health care bill 'still needs some work' Dems ask FEC to create new rules in response to Russian Facebook ads MORE (N.M.) would join the panel.