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 CottonImmigration battlefield widens for Trump, GOP The RAISE Act reveals what Trump really thinks about immigrants How Trump's legal immigration cuts could be a blessing to Dreamers MORE (Ark.), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Mike Rounds (S.D.), Dan Sullivan (Alaska) and Thom TillisThom R. TillisSenators fight proposed tariffs on solar panels GOP senators rally to McConnell's defense amid Trump attacks The Memo: Signs of trouble emerge in Trump’s base 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 McCainBush biographer: Trump has moved the goalpost for civilized society White House to pressure McConnell on ObamaCare McCain: Trump needs to state difference between bigots and those fighting hate 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 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 ReedTop Armed Services Dem: Trump's North Korea 'ad lib' not helpful Mattis warns North Korea of 'destruction of its people' Closing old military bases will help our defense — and our communities MORE (R.I.) would become the committee’s ranking member and Sen. Martin HeinrichMartin HeinrichWhat veterans have to lose in Trump’s national monument review Senators fight proposed tariffs on solar panels Economy adds impressive 209K jobs in July MORE (N.M.) would join the panel.