A battle in the Republican party over how deeply the U.S. should be involved overseas is expected to play out on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Lawmakers of different stripes will find themselves working side-by-side on the panel in the new Congress.
Two of the Senate panel’s incoming members — Sens. John McCainJohn McCainRepublicans play clean up on Trump's foreign policy Graham: Free press and independent judiciary are worth fighting for Drug importation from other countries will save dollars and lives MORE (R-Ariz.) and Rand PaulRand PaulRand Paul: We’re very lucky John McCain’s not in charge Rand Paul: John Bolton would be a 'bad choice' for national security adviser Trump to interview four candidates for national security adviser MORE (R-Ky.) — embody the clash over America’s proper role in the world.
Paul has bristled at that description – he’s said calling him an ‘isolationist’ “is about as accurate or appropriate as calling Senator McCain an ‘imperialist' ” – but has since proposed defense and foreign aid cuts that have infuriated McCain.
Paul may not be the only Republican target of McCain's well-documented ire.
While the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee has led the charge for a forceful U.S. intervention in Syria, his incoming counterpart on the Senate Foreign Relations panel has at times appeared even less eager than President Obama about getting drawn into a conflict that has left more than 60,000 people dead over the past 22 months.
“There is much discussion here about the U.S. arming the Free Syrian Army to deal with Syrian aircraft,” Sen. Bob CorkerBob CorkerRepublicans play clean up on Trump's foreign policy GOP Congress unnerved by Trump bumps Trump makes nuclear mistake on arms control treaty with Russia MORE (R-Tenn.), the ranking Republican on the panel, told reporters after returning from a trip to the Turkish border in September. “And while that may end up being the right course of action, their current loose alignment and lack of cohesiveness could make it a very problematic decision in the long run.”
Altogether, five out of the nine Republicans who served on the panel in the last Congress won't be returning, including Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), a long-time centrist Republican leader on foreign policy. Sens. Ron JohnsonRon JohnsonDems ask for hearings on Russian attempts to attack election infrastructure GOP senators unveil bill to give Congress control of consumer bureau budget GOP gets bolder in breaking with Trump MORE (R-Wis.) and Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeOvernight Tech: GOP chairman to propose high-skilled visa overhaul | Zuckerberg's 5,700 word letter | Tech lobbies gear up ahead of internet fight Senate Dem blasts GOP for trying to repeal broadband privacy rules Planned Parenthood targets GOP lawmakers amid ObamaCare protests MORE (R-Ariz.), another foreign aid foe, are joining the committee along with Paul and McCain.
Democrats are seeing less movement but will lose their chairman, Sen. John KerryJohn KerryHow dealmaker Trump can resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict John Kerry to teach at Yale on global issues The case for Julian Castro as the 2020 Democratic nominee MORE (D-Mass.), if as expected the Senate approves his nomination for secretary of State.
He will be replaced by Sen. Robert MenendezRobert MenendezSteve Mnuchin, foreclosure king, now runs your US Treasury Senate Dems move to nix Trump's deportation order Senators to Trump: We support additional Iran sanctions MORE (D-N.J.), who has bucked the White House on Cuba and Iran and called for a tougher stance. The committee loses Sens. Dick DurbinDick Durbin McConnell: I’m very sympathetic to 'Dreamers' Senate Dems move to nix Trump's deportation order Dem senators call for independent Flynn probe MORE (D-Ill.) and Jim Webb (D-Va.), who opposed the military operation in Libya, in favor of freshmen Chris MurphyChris MurphySenators eye new sanctions against Iran For Trump and Russia, the fall of Michael Flynn is only the beginning Overnight Finance: Trump's Labor pick withdraws | Ryan tries to save tax plan | Trump pushes tax reform with retailers MORE (D-Conn.) and Tim KaineTim KaineMattis on rise in Trump administration Senate advances Trump's Commerce pick Steve Mnuchin, foreclosure king, now runs your US Treasury MORE (D-Va.).
The House panel is also seeing a significant changeover, with Republicans getting 15 new members, 13 of them freshmen.
These include Rep. Tom CottonTom CottonKoch-backed group stepping up advocacy against border tax GOP senator: 'Serious concerns' about House border tax plan GOP senators to Trump: We support 'maintaining and expanding' Gitmo MORE (R-Ark.), a rising conservative star and Army platoon leader who recently reasserted the discredited link between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 terror attacks and strenuously opposes Obama's pick for secretary of Defense, Chuck HagelChuck HagelWho will temper Trump after he takes office? Hagel: I’m ‘encouraged’ by Trump’s Russia outreach Want to 'drain the swamp'? Implement regular order MORE.
Another hawk, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), is losing the chairmanship to the more centrist Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) but gains the chairmanship of a newly created subpanel on the Middle East and North Africa.
The other freshmen members are Reps. Matt SalmonMatt SalmonWestern Republicans seek new federal appeals court Arts groups gear up for fight over NEA What gun groups want from Trump MORE (R-Ariz.), Paul Cook (R-Calif.), George Holding (R-N.C.), Randy WeberRandy WeberHouse votes to let states deny federal funds to abortion providers GOP lawmaker says CNN reporter should be fired Ryan has little margin for error in Speaker vote MORE (R-Texas), Scott Perry (R-Penn.), Steve StockmanSteve StockmanWhy Republicans took aim at an ethics watchdog Cruz will skip State of the Union Ethics: Lawmakers didn’t ‘knowingly’ break rules with Azerbaijan gifts MORE (R-Texas), Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), Trey Radel (R-Fla.), Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Ted YohoTed YohoRyan reelected Speaker in near-unanimous GOP vote Obama's Russia report unlikely to silence doubters A banner year for U.S. leadership on aid effectiveness MORE (R-Fla.) and Luke Messer (R-Ind.). Sophomores Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and Mo BrooksMo BrooksWashington Post fires back at GOP rep over voter fraud claims GOP lawmaker blasts Washington Post 'fake news hit piece' Pence in leaked audio: There will be 'full evaluation' of voter fraud MORE (R-Ala.) are also joining the committee.
On the Democratic side, the strongly pro-Israel Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) is replacing the defeated Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) as ranking member.
Democrats are gaining 10 new members out of 21, including liberal bomb-thrower Alan GraysonAlan GraysonWhy Republicans took aim at an ethics watchdog Could bipartisanship rise with Trump government? Schumer under pressure to add Sanders to leadership team MORE (Fla.). The other newcomers are: Juan Vargas (Calif.), Bradley Schneider (Ill.), Joseph Kennedy (Mass.), Ami BeraAmi BeraHouse Dems: Force Flynn to testify before Foreign Affairs panel A record number of Indian Americans have been elected to Congress Calif. Dem wins reelection in overtime MORE (Calif.), Alan Lowenthal (Calif.), Grace Meng (N.Y.), Lois FrankelLois FrankelHouse Dems: Force Flynn to testify before Foreign Affairs panel House votes to permanently ban taxpayer funds for abortion GOP, Dems hear different things from Trump MORE (Fla.), Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardHouse Dems: Force Flynn to testify before Foreign Affairs panel If peace is our goal, US foreign policy must change. Gabbard should be commended Gabbard to repay cost of Syria trip MORE (Hawaii) and Joaquin Castro (Texas).