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 Sidney McCainSenate's defense authorization would set cyber doctrine Senate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions MORE (R-Ariz.) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Lawmakers grapple with warrantless wiretapping program 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 CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill Corker pressed as reelection challenges mount 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 JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Sen. Cassidy plans to bring down Medicaid Senate committee schedules hearing on health care block grants MORE (R-Wis.) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeCorker pressed as reelection challenges mount -trillion debt puts US fiscal house on very shaky ground Senate votes down Paul's bid to revoke war authorizations 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 Forbes KerryBringing the American election experience to Democratic Republic of the Congo Some Dems sizzle, others see their stock fall on road to 2020 The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (D-Mass.), if as expected the Senate approves his nomination for secretary of State.

He will be replaced by Sen. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Poll finds little support for Menendez reelection Judge tells Menendez lawyer to 'shut up' 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 DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill MORE (D-Ill.) and Jim Webb (D-Va.), who opposed the military operation in Libya, in favor of freshmen Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphySenate Dem: Graham-Cassidy is an 'intellectual and moral garbage truck fire' Dems call for action against Cassidy-Graham ObamaCare repeal Murphy fires back at Trump on filibuster MORE (D-Conn.) and Tim KaineTimothy Michael KaineWeek ahead: Crunch time for defense bill’s cyber reforms | Equifax under scrutiny Insurer Anthem to cover bare ObamaCare counties in Virginia Senate votes down Paul's bid to revoke war authorizations 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 CottonOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Lawmakers grapple with warrantless wiretapping program Senate passes 0B defense bill 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 HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelThe Hill's 12:30 Report The Hill's 12:30 Report Billionaires stopping climate change action have a hold on Trump, GOP 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 SalmonSchumer tells Sinema he's backing her in Ariz. Senate race Comey fallout weighs on the GOP Conservative activists want action from Trump MORE (R-Ariz.), Paul Cook (R-Calif.), George Holding (R-N.C.), Randy WeberRandy WeberGOP worries as state Dems outperform in special elections How Republicans split on the Harvey aid, fiscal deal House passes Trump deal on majority Democratic vote MORE (R-Texas), Scott Perry (R-Penn.), Steve StockmanSteve StockmanFormer congressman indicted on conspiracy charges Ex-GOP rep blames arrest on 'deep state' conspiracy Former Texas rep Steve Stockman facing conspiracy charge MORE (R-Texas), Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), Trey Radel (R-Fla.), Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Ted YohoTed YohoDem lawmaker renews push for infrastructure, tax package Savings through success in foreign assistance GOP rep: I would have met with Russians for opposition research MORE (R-Fla.) and Luke Messer (R-Ind.). Sophomores Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and Mo BrooksMo BrooksAlabama Rep. Mo Brooks endorses Moore for Senate How Republicans split on the Harvey aid, fiscal deal House defeats conservative effort to defund Amtrak 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 GraysonPennsylania Dems file ethics complaint against Rep. Barletta The Hill's 12:30 Report Why Republicans took aim at an ethics watchdog MORE (Fla.). The other newcomers are: Juan Vargas (Calif.), Bradley Schneider (Ill.), Joseph Kennedy (Mass.), Ami BeraAmerish (Ami) Babulal BeraAmerica’s leadership needed in global health Lawmakers eye private moon missions Republicans look for California House wins in 2018 midterms MORE (Calif.), Alan Lowenthal (Calif.), Grace Meng (N.Y.), Lois FrankelLois FrankelFormer CIA director: Don’t call Russian election hacking ‘act of war’ Palm Beach official proposes Mar-a-Lago tax to pay for Trump visits Members jam with Wynonna Judd, Keith Urban at Grammys on the Hill MORE (Fla.), Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardThe OFF Act will mandate a swift and just transition to clean energy House panel approves 6.5B defense policy bill Jane Sanders starts group to boost ‘progressive voices’ MORE (Hawaii) and Joaquin Castro (Texas).