Cotton, Ernst to join Armed Services panel

Senate Republicans on Tuesday announced their assignments for the powerful Armed Services Committee in the 114th Congress, packing the panel with freshmen lawmakers, many from military backgrounds.

The five GOP freshmen joining the panel include Sens.-elect Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonCongress must address gender gap in nominations to military service academies GOP senators press Google on reports it developed a smart speaker with Huawei Sunday shows - Mass shootings grab the spotlight MORE (Ark.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstErnst town hall in Iowa gets contentious over guns Air Force probe finds no corroboration of sexual assault allegations against Trump pick Gun control activists set to flex muscle in battle for Senate MORE (Iowa), Mike RoundsMarion (Mike) Michael RoundsThe Hill's Morning Report - Progressives, centrists clash in lively Democratic debate Senate braces for brawl over Trump's spy chief Overnight Defense: Esper sworn in as Pentagon chief | Confirmed in 90-8 vote | Takes helm as Trump juggles foreign policy challenges | Senators meet with woman accusing defense nominee of sexual assault MORE (S.D.), Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanOvernight Defense: Esper sworn in as Pentagon chief | Confirmed in 90-8 vote | Takes helm as Trump juggles foreign policy challenges | Senators meet with woman accusing defense nominee of sexual assault Alarm sounds over census cybersecurity concerns Senate sets new voting record with Iran war measure MORE (Alaska) and Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisThe United States broken patent system is getting worse Gun reform groups to pressure GOP senators with rallies in all 50 states To cash in on innovation, remove market barriers for advanced energy technologies MORE (N.C.).

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Cotton served in the Army during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Ernst served in Iraq as a lieutenant colonel with the Iowa National Guard and will be the first female combat veteran in the Senate

Sullivan was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.

Meanwhile, Tillis and Rounds represent states with major military installations.

The GOP hammered Democrats on national security issues ahead of the November midterm elections, where they captured the Senate and built their biggest House majority in decades.

In a widely expected move, Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCain3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 Fighter pilot vs. astronaut match-up in Arizona could determine control of Senate The Hill's Morning Report — Recession fears climb and markets dive — now what? MORE (R-Ariz.), one of President Obama’s chief critics, will head the panel.

The promotion gives McCain, a Vietnam War veteran, a perch to oversee the Obama administration’s national security policy, including the campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the nomination of Ashton Carter to be the next Defense Secretary.

The assignments are subject to ratification by the Republican Conference as well as the full Senate, according to the GOP. 

Republicans will have 14 seats on the Armed Services panel to 12 for Democrats, reversing the committee's current makeup.

Sens. Mark Udall (Colo.) and Kay Hagan (N.C.), two current committee members, both lost their reelection bids, while Chairman Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinListen, learn and lead: Congressional newcomers should leave the extremist tactics at home House Democrats poised to set a dangerous precedent with president’s tax returns The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — White House to 'temporarily reinstate' Acosta's press pass after judge issues order | Graham to take over Judiciary panel | Hand recount for Florida Senate race MORE (Mich.) and Sen. Saxby ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissHoekstra emerges as favorite for top intelligence post Republicans say Democrats holding up disaster relief as 'Sandy payback' Ex-House Intel chair: Intel panel is wrong forum to investigate Trump's finances MORE (R-Ga.) are retiring.

Democrats on Friday announced that Sen. Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedSenators ask for committee vote on 'red flag' bills after shootings Senate Democrats demand Trump order review of White House security clearances Overnight Defense: Dems talk Afghanistan, nukes at Detroit debate | Senate panel advances Hyten nomination | Iranian foreign minister hit with sanctions | Senate confirms UN ambassador MORE (R.I.) would become the committee’s ranking member and Sen. Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichOvernight Defense: Dems talk Afghanistan, nukes at Detroit debate | Senate panel advances Hyten nomination | Iranian foreign minister hit with sanctions | Senate confirms UN ambassador Senate committee advances nomination of general accused of sexual assault House passes bill requiring CBP to enact safety, hygiene standards MORE (N.M.) would join the panel.