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 CottonTom Cotton rails against cable news countdown clocks GOP lawmakers call on FCC chair to soften data services proposal Trump should work with Congress to block regulations on prepaid cards MORE (Ark.), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Mike Rounds (S.D.), Dan Sullivan (Alaska) and Thom TillisThom R. TillisDem pushed plan for both sides to admit to abusing Senate rules: report Overnight Defense: FBI chief confirms Trump campaign, Russia probe | Senators push for Afghan visas | Problems persist at veterans' suicide hotline Senators ask to include visas for Afghans in spending bill 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 McCainTrump wall faces skepticism on border No Congress members along Mexico border support funding Trump's wall Treasury won’t grant Exxon drilling waiver for Russia 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 LevinFor the sake of American taxpayers, companies must pay their fair share What the Iran-Contra investigation can teach us about Russia probe Senate about to enter 'nuclear option' death spiral MORE (Mich.) and Sen. Saxby ChamblissSaxby ChamblissGOP hopefuls crowd Georgia special race Democrats go for broke in race for Tom Price's seat Spicer: Trump will 'help the team' if needed in Georgia special election MORE (R-Ga.) are retiring.

Democrats on Friday announced that Sen. Jack ReedJack ReedSunday shows preview: McMaster hits circuit for second straight week The Hill's 12:30 Report Easy accessibility of voter registration data imperils American safety MORE (R.I.) would become the committee’s ranking member and Sen. Martin HeinrichMartin HeinrichSenate Dems want Trump to release ethics waivers, visitor logs Senate Dems offer bill to restore internet privacy rules Overnight Cybersecurity: Rice denies wrongly unmasking Trump team | Dems plead for electric grid cyber funds | China reportedly targeting cloud providers MORE (N.M.) would join the panel.