Dicks still interested in top slot on Defense panel, will wait for caucus decision

Dicks, who is from the Seattle area, has long been a friend of defense contractors and of Boeing in particular, which is has its headquarters in his district. He also can be expected to try to preserve Pentagon funding next year.

Some lawmakers have argued against lawmakers holding two leadership spots on any one panel. Retiring Appropriations Chairman Dave Obey (D-Wis.) also serves as chairman of the panel's Subcommittee on Labor—Health and Human Services—Education. 

"This is a caucus decision the rule has been there since 94 it's always been the tradition of Democrats to do it this way," Dicks said. "My preference would be to sustain that." 

Dicks will face-off next year with incoming Chairman Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), whom the Republican Conference on Wednesday formally tapped to lead the panel.