Republicans Aim at 'Woke' Military and Biden as House Finalizes Military and Veteran Panel Membership

Department of Defense leadership testifies at HASC hearing.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Mike McCord, Under Secretary of Defense (comptroller)/Chief Financial Officer, provide testimony at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the fiscal 2023 defense budget request, 2118 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C. April 5, 2022.(DoD Photo by U.S. Air Force TSgt. Jack Sanders)

The House committee that oversees military issues will see 16 new faces this year, while the committee in charge of veterans oversight will have 13 new members.

House Democrats on Friday announced their full slate of committee assignments, finalizing the chamber's committee rosters for the congressional session that started Jan. 3 after Republicans named their members earlier this month.

On the House Armed Services Committee, 20 Republicans and 19 Democrats who served on the panel last year are returning this year. There will also be 11 new Republicans and five new Democrats.

Read Next: 'A Total Shock': Parents Mourn Sudden Death of Their Air Force Academy Son

The committee, which will be chaired by Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., is tasked with writing the mammoth annual defense policy bill and will likely grapple this year with major issues facing the military such as recruitment struggles and support for the war in Ukraine. Republicans have also vowed to target "woke" military policies, a term they use for a wide range of policies they disagree with but that often relate to diversity efforts.

The new Republicans include freshman Reps. Dale Strong of Alabama; Morgan Luttrell of Texas; Jen Kiggans of Virginia; Nick LaLota of New York; Mark Alford of Missouri; Cory Mills of Florida; Rick McCormick of Georgia; and Del. James Moylan of Guam. Also joining the panel are sophomore GOP Reps. Carlos Gimenez of Florida and Nancy Mace of South Carolina and Brad Finstad of Minnesota, who joined Congress after a special election in August.

Rogers also this week named his subcommittee chairs, including Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., who has already launched a campaign for Senate for 2024, as chairman of the personnel subcommittee.

"As chairman of this subcommittee, exposing and dismantling the Biden administration's woke agenda that is driving down military recruitment and retention will be my top priority," Banks said in a statement this week. "If we want to maintain the strongest military in the world, we must ensure our troops have the resources they need for success on the battlefield and supporting their families, not for fighting the Left's culture wars."

Several Democrats who served on the panel last year either retired from Congress or lost reelection, including longtime champion of personnel issues Jackie Speier of California and conductor of rigorous Navy oversight Elaine Luria of Virginia. The military-heavy district that Luria represented will still have a voice on the committee with Kiggans, who defeated Luria.

The new Democrats this year are all freshmen: Reps. Jeff Jackson and Don Davis of North Carolina, Gabe Vasquez of New Mexico, Chris Deluzio of Pennsylvania and Jill Tokuda of Hawaii.

There are also still four vacant positions on the Democratic side based on the committee ratios agreed to by House leadership, meaning more members will likely be added later, particularly as the committee gets closer to considering the defense bill and Democrats will need all the support they can get on tight amendment votes.

Eight of the new members from both parties are veterans: Luttrell, Kiggans, LaLota, Mills, McCormick, Jackson, Deluzio and Davis.

Luttrell, Kiggans and Deluzio will also serve on the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

The House Veterans Affairs Committee, which often sees high turnover as members jostle for more high-profile committee assignments, will have more new members than those returning. The committee will have eight new Republicans and five new Democrats, compared to six returning Republicans and six returning Democrats.

The committee, which will be chaired by Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., has an array of pressing veterans issues on its plate, including oversight of the sweeping toxic exposure bill passed last year and of the Department of Veterans Affairs' troubled electronic medical records program.

In addition to Luttrell and Kiggans, the new Republican members include freshman Reps. Derrick Van Orden of Wisconsin; Juan Ciscomani and Eli Crane of Arizona; and Keith Self of Texas. Sophomore GOP Rep. Scott Franklin of Florida and third-term Rep. Greg Murphy of North Carolina are also joining the panel. Van Orden, Crane, Self and Franklin are also veterans.

"We have assembled a strong bench to hold the Biden administration accountable, oversee the implementation of the meaningful legislation that has been enacted over the past few Congresses, improve the transition process, increase healthcare access and more to ultimately deliver for veterans," Bost said in a statement this week about the Republican membership of the committee.

On the Democratic side, the new members are all freshmen: Reps. Delia Ramirez and Nikki Budzinski of Illinois, Morgan McGarvey of Kentucky, Greg Landsman of Ohio and Deluzio, who is the only new Democratic member who is a veteran.

In the Senate, Democrats released their committee assignments earlier this week with no changes in membership for either the Senate Armed Services Committee or the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. Senate Republicans are still working on their committee assignments, but are similarly not expected to shake up their Armed Services or Veterans Affairs slates.

-- Rebecca Kheel can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @reporterkheel.

Related: Meet the Mikes: The New Men in Charge of Military and Veterans Oversight in the House

Story Continues