Republicans hand down committee assignments
New and returning members received new appointments on key national security committees
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The Republican Steering Committee yesterday handed down committee assignments for new and returning GOP House members, including for the Foreign Affairs, Homeland Security, Armed Services and Judiciary Committees. While the assignments must still be ratified by the House GOP conference, they’re unlikely to see major changes. Here are the new additions to these key committees:
Foreign Affairs Committee:
Chair: Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX)
Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL) is a U.S. Army Reserve colonel who has been vocal on a range of Middle East policy issues. In the previous congressional session, he co-led a bipartisan letter calling for a further-reaching Iran deal and a bipartisan letter urging the administration not to downgrade the U.S. official responsible for Israeli-Palestinian security coordination. He was also the lead House sponsor of legislation aiming to codify the Trump administration’s maximum pressure sanctions on Iran. He spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s 2021 conference and cosponsored the Israel Relations Normalization Act.
Rep. French Hill (R-AR) most recently traveled to Israel in 2021 with a Foreign Affairs Committee delegation, although he was not a member of the committee at the time. Last year, he was one of a small number of lawmakers who signed onto a letter alleging that Israeli extremists had been allowed to attack Christians and Christian sites in Jerusalem “with impunity.” Hill also cosponsored the Maximum Pressure Act in the previous Congress, supporting imposing an additional series of sanctions on Iran and limiting the administration’s ability to roll back existing sanctions, and the Israel Relations Normalization Act.
Rep. Jim Baird (R-IN) is an Army veteran who served in the Vietnam war. During the 2021 military conflict between Israel and Gaza, he said, “The launching of rocket attacks with the goal of hurting innocent civilians is reprehensible and should be denounced by everyone. I will always stand by Israel and their right to self-defense.” During wrangling over funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system later that year, he falsely accused Democrats of voting to “remove funding” for Iron Dome. He cosponsored the Maximum Pressure Act and the Israel Relations Normalization Act.
Rep. John James (R-MI) is a first-term member and West Point graduate who served multiple tours of duty in Iraq. In an interview with Jewish Insider last year, he said, “There must be no public space between the United States of America and Israel” and that Israel must maintain “economic and military dominance” in the region. He’s supportive of expanding the Abraham Accords and opposed to negotiations with Iran. He told JI in 2020 he supports a two-state solution, but decried the Palestinian Authority as not participating in the peace process and said he would defer to Israel on potential annexation of parts of the West Bank.
Rep. Thomas Kean (R-NJ), a freshman, hails from a long-running New Jersey political dynasty with long-standing ties to the Jewish community. He told JI in 2020 that visits to Auschwitz and Moscow, the latter of which was to meet with Soviet refuseniks, had shaped his “entire approach to public service,” particularly to Israel. In the New Jersey State Legislature, he led a bipartisan effort to deny state investments in Airbnb after it announced it would not list Israeli homes in the West Bank.
Rep. Michael Lawler (R-NY) is a freshman representing a heavily Jewish district in the Hudson Valley — a fact Lawler noted in a statement announcing his appointment to the Foreign Affairs Committee. “With ongoing challenges in the Middle East and an emboldened Iran looming, it will be critically important to bolster our support for one of our closest allies, Israel, in the coming weeks, months, and years,” he said.
Rep. Rich McCormick (R-GA), a first-term lawmaker, served for 20 years in the Marine Corps and Navy, reaching the rank of commander. In a questionnaire submitted to JI as a candidate in 2020, McCormick expressed support for a two-state solution and the Trump administration’s peace plan: “Any plan for the Middle East must recognize Israel’s right to exist, provide the Palestinian people with the right to self determination and ensure access to the holy sites of Jerusalem… I also believe that peace should not demand the uprooting of people — Arab or Jew — from their homes.”
Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI) is a five-term lawmaker with a largely conventional pro-Israel legislative and voting record. He signed onto the Maximum Pressure Act in the previous Congress and cosponsored the Israel Relations Normalization Act.
Delegate Amata Radewagen (R-AS) represents American Samoa and traveled to Israel in 2019, after which he described Israel as a “reliable ally of the United States” and “important to the region’s stability, prosperity and the cause of freedom.”
Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) is a former Army Ranger and West Point graduate. He came under fire last year for comparing vaccination policies in Washington, D.C., to the Nazi regime, comments for which he ultimately apologized.
Rep. Cory Mills (R-FL) is a freshman Iraq War veteran and former member of Joint Special Operations Command, who worked subsequently in private security and defense contracting. In a statement on his appointment to the Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committees, Mills focused primarily on decrying “woke ideology plaguing our military.”
Rep. Nathaniel Moran (R-TX) is a former local judge and city council member in Texas. He attended West Point for two years. A freshman, he replaces former Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) in the House.
Rep. Keith Self (R-TX) is a first-term member and former county judge, who served in the Army Rangers in Qatar, Egypt, Germany, Afghanistan and Belgium.
Staying and Going: Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Darell Issa (R-CA), Andy Barr (R-KY), Scott Perry (R-PA), Ann Wagner (R-MO), Ken Buck (R-CO), Brian Mast (R-FL), Tim Burchet (R-TN), Mark Green (R-TN), Ronny Jackson (R-TX), Young Kim (R-CA) and Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL) will continue their service on the committee. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Greg Steube (R-FL), Dan Meuser (R-PA), Claudia Tenney (R-NY), August Pfluger (R-TX) and Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) are stepping off the committee. Former Reps. Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Peter Meijer (R-MI) did not win reelection, and Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Lee Zeldin (R-NY) did not seek re-election.
Homeland Security Committee:
Chair: Rep. Mark Green (R-TN)
Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-TX) was removed from her committee assignments in 2021, but restored yesterday to plum assignments on the Homeland Security and Oversight Committees — to which she was reportedly selected unanimously. Greene promoted QAnon and other conspiracy theories relating to 9/11 and school shootings, claimed that space weapons controlled by a prominent Jewish family were responsible for wildfires in California, made comments that Jewish groups described as antisemitic and spoke at a conference organized by white nationalist Nick Fuentes. Greene has more recently sought distance from her far-right positions, becoming a key ally of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and disavowing Fuentes.
McCarthy said yesterday that he thought it was “great” that Greene was selected for the Homeland Security Committee. Republicans have pledged to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (R-MN) from the House Foreign Affairs Committee for her own antisemitic comments. None of the Republican lawmakers who voted to remove Greene from her committees in 2021 — including Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), who sits on the Steering Committee — responded to requests for comment. Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY), the former vice chair of the committee, tweeted that he is “HORRIFIED” that Greene is set to join it. “A QAnon conspiracy theorist + Jan 6 insurrectionist doesn’t belong on a committee that exists to fight extremism,” he said.
Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY) is a former police officer and town councilman from Nassau County, who, in an interview with JI last year, detailed his frequent work with local Jewish communal leaders on security issues, including the Nonprofit Security Grant Program. The freshman legislator called for further funding for nonprofit security and antisemitism education, as well as policy changes allowing more antisemitic crimes to be prosecuted at the federal level.
Nick LaLota (R-NY) is a freshman who served three overseas tours in the Navy. Last week, he called on Rep. George Santos (R-NY) to resign, citing in part allegations that Santos had flashed a white power hand signal on the House floor. He replaced former Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) in the House, after Zeldin, who had been one of two Jewish Republicans in the House last Congress, mounted a gubernatorial bid. LaLota represents a heavily Jewish district, and has expressed support for U.S.-Israel security cooperation.
Morgan Luttrell (R-TX) is a first-term lawmaker and former Navy SEAL who earned the rank of lieutenant. He won his primary in what was described as a “proxy war” between the establishment — himself — and the hard-right wing of the party. He listed “protect Israel at all costs” among his policy priorities on his campaign site.
Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX) is a Navy veteran who served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, specializing in cybersecurity. He was among the minority of Republicans who voted last year in favor of a bill supporting expanded funding and resources for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program. He has also been active on Israel and Middle East policy issues, is an alumnus of the Foundation for Defense of Democracy’s national security fellows program and a former legislative fellow for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).
Eli Crane (R-AZ) is a freshman lawmaker and a former Navy SEAL who was deployed five times, including three times in the Middle East. Crane was one the Republican critics who opposed McCarthy’s speakership bid, voting for different candidates up until the final round of balloting, when he voted “present.”
Josh Brecheen (R-OK) is a first-term House member and a former Oklahoma state senator. He voted against McCarthy in the speaker’s race until the 12th round of balloting, when McCarthy agreed to additional concessions to right-wing holdouts.
Mike Ezell (R-MS) is a first-term lawmaker and former sheriff, with a degree in criminal justice. He graduated from both the Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers Training Academy and the FBI National Academy.
Laurel Lee (R-FL), a freshman, is Florida’s former secretary of state and a former state court judge.
Dale Strong (R-AL) is a first-term member and former local official, as well as a firefighter, EMT and 911 dispatcher.
Back again: Reps. August Pfluger (R-TX), Michael Guest (R-MS), Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Clay Higgins (R-LA), Dan Bishop (R-NC) and Carlos Gimenez (R-FL) are set to be reappointed to the committee. Reps. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), Diana Harshbarger (R-TN), Andrew Clyde (R-GA), Jake LaTurner (R-KS) and Kat Cammack (R-FL) are not expected to return. Reps. Mayra Flores (R-TX) and Peter Meijer (R-MI) lost reelection.
Armed Services Committee:
Chair: Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL)
Nancy Mace (R-SC) is the first female graduate of The Citadel, a military college, although she never served in the military. On her campaign site, Mace pledged to support the U.S.-Israel relationship and work to cut off aid to “any country that does not seek peace with Israel.” She called for “a regional peace accord that stops an Islamic nuclear state and stems the tide of ballistic missile proliferation” in lieu of an Iran nuclear deal. She told JI in 2020 that she “would never presume to dictate” the terms of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.
Carlos Gimenez (R-FL), who represents Miami, was vocal on various Middle East policy issues during his first term in Congress, including leading a resolution supporting Israeli security and condemning terrorist attacks amid the 2021 Gaza conflict, and supporting sanctions on Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah. The sophomore legislator was also an early and vocal advocate for expelling Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Jen Kiggans (R-VA) is a freshman lawmaker and former Navy helicopter pilot representing a district including the Norfolk Naval Center. Kiggans said last year that “Israel has been a strong strategic ally for the United States in the Middle East. As tensions rise in the Middle East, the United States’ cooperation with Israel must continue to grow.” Kiggans replaced pro-Israel stalwart Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) in the House.
Brad Finstad (R-MN) is a former member of the Minnesota House of Representatives and U.S. Department of Agriculture official, who was first elected to fill a vacancy in August 2022, before winning a full term last November. He did not amass a significant record on Middle East policy in his initial months in Congress.
Mark Alford (R-MO) is a freshman lawmaker and former TV news reporter, who represents a district containing two military bases.
Strong, Mills, LaLota, Luttrel and McCormick will also sit on the Armed Services Committee.
Chair: Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH)
Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ) signed on to a recent bipartisan resolution condemning antisemitism by “public figures” following Kanye West’s dinner with former President Donald Trump. The former Democrat, who switched parties in 2020, has also supported legislation expanding Holocaust education and honoring an Ohio Holocaust memorial. He voted in favor of the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act, which provided incentives to law enforcement to submit hate crime report data, in 2021.
Lance Gooden (R-TX) cosponsored legislation pushing harsher sentences for and better enforcement against antisemitic hate crimes; condemning anti-Israel and antisemitic hatred and endorsing the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism; and expanding Holocaust education. He voted against Jabara-Heyer.
Barry Moore (R-AL) tied rising antisemitism in a 2021 interview to “the moral decline in our country” as well as gaps in Holocaust education. He claimed that “the left… don’t seem to care for the Jewish people” and praised former President Donald Trump’s executive order on antisemitism. He voted against Jabara-Heyer.
Harriet Hageman (R-WY) is the first-term lawmaker who unseated former Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY). She told JI last year that it’s incumbent on lawmakers to use their bully pulpit to combat antisemitism. “You expose it, you challenge it, you make clear that it’s absolutely unacceptable, you don’t engage in it yourself, and you make sure that the people who do engage in that kind of behavior are called out,” she said.
Wesley Hunt (R-TX) is a West Point graduate and former military helicopter pilot. He said last year that he has longstanding ties to the Houston Jewish community and called visiting Israel’s Yad Vashem Museum and Memorial “one of the most sobering moments” of his life and “a constant reminder of the importance of freedom.”
Kevin Kiley (R-CA) is a former California State Assembly member and a first-term member of the House. In the State Assembly, he criticized the state’s proposed ethnic studies curriculum, echoing criticisms leveled by the Assembly’s Jewish Caucus and noting, “While drafters have been admonished to take it easy on the anti-Semitism, dozens of Jewish groups remain opposed.” In 2017, he condemned vandalism at a synagogue in his district, calling it “disgraceful and criminal” but “no match for the values that animate our multi-faced faith community.”
Ben Cline (R-VA) tweeted on Holocaust Remembrance Day last year, “Antisemitism has no place in society, and we must always stand against hate and evil wherever in the world it is occurring.” He also signed a letter calling for an “independent investigation” of the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh last year. He voted against Jabara-Heyer.
Troy Nehls (R-TX) is a former sheriff and Army reservist. He voted in favor of Jabara-Heyer.
Russell Fry (R-SC) is a freshman and former member of the South Carolina House, who beat former Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC) in a primary last year.
Moran and Lee were also named to the Judiciary Committee.
Turnover: Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Ken Buck (R-CO), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Mike Johnson (R-LA), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Tom Tiffany (R-WI), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Chip Roy (R-TX) and Dan Bishop (R-NC) are remaining on the committee. Reps. Burgess Owens (R-UT), Greg Steube (R-FL) and Michelle Fischbach (R-MN) will not return to the committee.
Other notable assignments:
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) was reinstated to the Natural Resources and Oversight Committees, from which he was removed for tweeting a video showing him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Gosar has spoken at Fuentes’ conferences twice and promoted Fuentes as recently as last September, after attempting to distance himself from the white nationalist leader. Gosar was also one of the Republican House members who opposed McCarthy’s speakership bid.
Rep. George Santos (R-NY), who had been seeking assignments on two high-profile committees, Foreign Affairs and Financial Services, received neither, landing on the Small Business Committee and the Science, Space and Technology Committee.