With McCain at the Helm, SASC Focuses Could Shift

Now that Republicans have gained control of the Senate, the make-up of the Senate Armed Services Committee will look much different. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is expected to become the next SASC chairman, and will likely push for a stronger US presence in Iraq and Syria, as well as a stronger response against Russian aggression in Ukraine. He has been vocal in his opposition to Russian engines propelling US rocket launches, and will likely continue his efforts to block future RD-180 contracts. The Defense Department should expect heightened probing of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, which McCain has called “both a scandal and a tragedy,” decrying its cost and delivery schedule. McCain is also likely to push harder on VA and defense acquisition reforms and to heavily scrutinize the costs associated with various programs.