Foreign policy battle between McCain, Rand Paul to hit Senate committee

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 McCainMcCain granddaughter comes out in support of Clinton With reservations, moving toward Hillary Clinton FULL SPEECH: Hillary Clinton closes out Democratic convention MORE (R-Ariz.) and Rand PaulRand PaulGreen party candidate: People have 'real questions' about vaccines What to watch for on Day 2 at the GOP convention Cyber squatters sitting on valuable VP web addresses MORE (R-Ky.) — embody the clash over America’s proper role in the world.

ADVERTISEMENT
“I think there are going to be some tensions within our party,” McCain presciently predicted in November 2010 after Paul's election. “I worry a lot about the rise of protectionism and isolationism in the Republican Party.”

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 CorkerTrump starts considering Cabinet Trump's secret weapon is Ivanka Senate Dems introduce Iran sanctions extension 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 JohnsonSanders could be secret weapon for Dems The Trail 2016: The newrevolution begins Greens launch M ad buy in Wis. Senate race MORE (R-Wis.) and Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeVulnerable GOP senators praise Kaine GOP Sen. Flake offers Trump rare praise Booker denounces ‘lock her up' chants 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 KerryA new president, a new North Korea strategy Trump hopes Russia is listening; America, are you listening? Clinton at risk of being upstaged MORE (D-Mass.), if as expected the Senate approves his nomination for secretary of State.

He will be replaced by Sen. Robert MenendezRobert MenendezTim Kaine backs call to boost funding for Israeli missile defense GMO labeling bill advances in the Senate over Dem objections Overnight Finance: Trump threatens NAFTA withdrawal | Senate poised for crucial Puerto Rico vote | Ryan calls for UK trade deal | Senate Dems block Zika funding deal 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 DurbinSyria activists cheer Kaine pick Democratic National Convention event calendar Opioid package clears key Senate hurdle MORE (D-Ill.) and Jim Webb (D-Va.), who opposed the military operation in Libya, in favor of freshmen Chris MurphyChris MurphyThe Hill's 12:30 Report Kaine as Clinton's VP pick sells out progressive wing of party Sen. Murphy: Trump's stance on guns 'sinister' MORE (D-Conn.) and Tim KaineTim KainePentagon will strike rebranded Nusra Front after split from al Qaeda GOP senator’s camp to woo Clinton fans Clinton, Kaine blast GOP convention 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 CottonThe Trail 2016: Her big night Reid: Trump 'may have' broken the law with Russia remarks Senator slams Reid for 'dangerous game' on Trump briefings 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 HagelThere's still time for another third-party option Hagel says NATO deployment could spark a new Cold War with Russia Overnight Defense: House panel unveils 5B defense spending bill 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 SalmonLGBT fight dooms spending bill on House floor A hearing brought to tears over Right to Try legislation Time for national Right to Try legislation MORE (R-Ariz.), Paul Cook (R-Calif.), George Holding (R-N.C.), Randy WeberRandy WeberDem rep tells Trump to ‘shut the f--- up’ over Ginsburg criticism GOP rep: Ginsburg's actions 'must be met with consequences' House GOP defense policy bill conferees named MORE (R-Texas), Scott Perry (R-Penn.), Steve StockmanSteve StockmanCruz will skip State of the Union Ethics: Lawmakers didn’t ‘knowingly’ break rules with Azerbaijan gifts Lawmakers deny knowledge of secret funding for 2013 trip MORE (R-Texas), Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), Trey Radel (R-Fla.), Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Ted YohoTed YohoGOP bill would block undocumenteds from military service It is time for a paradigm shift in U.S. foreign aid Clash in GOP over Zika funding MORE (R-Fla.) and Luke Messer (R-Ind.). Sophomores Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and Mo BrooksMo BrooksGOP bill would block undocumenteds from military service GOP rep: Muslims want to 'kill every homosexual' in the US House GOP avoids debate over immigration in defense bill 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 GraysonDems urge Grayson to end Senate bid The Trail 2016: One large crack in the glass ceiling Progressive fundraising firm cuts ties with Grayson MORE (Fla.). The other newcomers are: Juan Vargas (Calif.), Bradley Schneider (Ill.), Joseph Kennedy (Mass.), Ami BeraAmi BeraGOP super-PAC ties vulnerable House Dems to Hillary GOP campaign chief: Trump won't cost us the House Dems urge treaty ratification after South China Sea ruling MORE (Calif.), Alan Lowenthal (Calif.), Grace Meng (N.Y.), Lois FrankelLois FrankelDems urge Grayson to end Senate bid Dems push B boost for childcare programs Members snap photos of pope from the House floor MORE (Fla.), Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardSanders gives blessing as Dems nominate Clinton Democrats nominate Hillary Clinton for president Sanders formally nominated for president MORE (Hawaii) and Joaquin Castro (Texas).