Rep. Thornberry wins Armed Services gavel

House Republican leaders have picked Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) for chairman of the powerful House Armed Services Committee in the 114th Congress.

The Texas lawmaker confirmed the decision by the House Republican Steering Committee to The Hill, which was later announced by Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerTrump adviser expected to leave White House, join Juul The Hill's 12:30 Report: McGahn inflames Dem divisions on impeachment Amash storm hits Capitol Hill MORE (R-Ohio.)

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Thornberry, who has served as the panel’s No. 2 for the last four years, will replace Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), who is retiring at the end of the current Congress.

The congressman said he would consult with his colleagues in the coming weeks so that he can "hit the ground running in January.”

"Defending the country is the first job of the federal government, and that job may be more challenging now than it has ever been," Thornberry said in a statement. "We face a wide array of threats, which means we have to have a wide array of capabilities. We also face a very volatile security environment. The only thing we can be sure of is that the unexpected will occur."

McKeon welcomed the steering committee's vote and called Thornberry a "leader with a servant’s heart" who is devoted to the troops.

“The Armed Services Committee will be in the most capable of hands with Chairman-select Thornberry, and so will our Armed Forces. My heartfelt congratulations to him as he moves into this rewarding — and challenging — job," he said.

The promotion gives Thornberry, first elected in the 1994 Republican Revolution, responsibility for crafting the House version of the Defense Department’s annual budget policy bill.

The post will also provide him a major role overseeing the Obama administration’s national security and defense policies, including the campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Thornberry won the backing of the House Steering Committee despite a last-minute challenge from Rep. Randy ForbesJames (Randy) Randy ForbesToo much ‘can do,’ not enough candor Trump makes little headway filling out Pentagon jobs Why there's only one choice for Trump's Navy secretary MORE (R-Va.).

On Monday, Forbes told reporters that he was not actively lobbying to lead Congress' largest panel.

“I haven’t called anyone. I haven’t asked anyone. What I’m attempting to do is make a presentation on what we need to do with national defense,” he said prior to giving his pitch to the steering committee, which is composed of GOP leaders, top committee chairmen and regional representatives.

The full Republican Conference is expected to ratify the Steering Committee's picks.

— This story was last updated at 6:16 p.m.