Mac Thornberry

Thornberry retirement latest shakeup on House Armed Services Committee
Former chairman is sixth Republican to announce plans to retire from the committee

Thornberry, a Texas Republican who spent two terms as Armed Services chairman before becoming ranking member after Democrats won control of the House, has been an ardent backer of higher Pentagon spending levels and a reliable hawk on policy matters ranging from the size of the Navy fleet to the nuclear arsenal. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Mac Thornberry on Monday became the sixth Republican on the House Armed Services Committee to announce plans to retire at the end of this Congress, creating openings for ambitious younger members but also leaving a significant dearth of experience on the powerful panel.

Thornberry, a Texas Republican who spent two terms as Armed Services chairman before becoming ranking member after Democrats won control of the House, has been an ardent backer of higher Pentagon spending levels and a reliable hawk on policy matters ranging from the size of the Navy fleet to the nuclear arsenal.

Mac Thornberry joins Republican ‘Texodus’ from House
Top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee to retire rather than seek 14th term

Texas GOP Rep. Mac Thornberry is not running for reelection. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Mac Thornberry is the latest Texas Republican to head for the exits, announcing Monday that he is not running for reelection. The 13-term lawmaker is the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee.

Thornberry was facing GOP term limits on the committee, having served two previous terms as chairman before the start of the current Congress, where he became the ranking member after Democrats took over the House.

Term limit rules targeted by Trump aren’t tipping scale on House GOP retirements
POTUS wants to discourage retirements, but life in the minority is also a factor

President Trump blamed the wave of retirements on a GOP conference rule that term limits committee chairmen. Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, is one member who said losing his top committee spot impacted his choice to not seek reelection. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump has an idea he thinks would quell the growing list of House Republicans who say they won’t run for another term, but the president’s proposal might not get to the root of the GOP retirements.

In a tweet early Monday, Trump urged House GOP leaders to alter conference rules to allow committee chairs (and ranking members if in the minority) to hold their posts for more than six years.

Republican retirements raise questions about GOP optimism in 2020
Serving in the minority is a new experience for most House Republicans

Rep. Bill Flores, R-Texas, announced this week that he is not running for reelection. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The recent string of House Republican retirements — even those from ruby-red districts — have raised new questions about whether GOP lawmakers are pessimistic about winning back the House in 2020.

Some Republican political operatives were split on what the recent retirements say about lawmakers’ political calculations, and whether they’re heading for the exits at the prospect of spending a few more years in the minority.

Will Hurd’s exit highlights a Texas-size challenge for Republicans in 2020
Democrats are going on offense, targeting multiple House seats in the Lone Star State

Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, is not running for re-election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Texas Rep. Will Hurd’s decision to retire was a gut punch for Republicans, who consider him one of their strongest incumbents in one of the most competitive districts in the country. His exit means the GOP will have to work even harder to hold on to his seat with Democrats going on offense in the Lone Star State. 

Hurd is the third Texas Republican in a week to announce his retirement, and the second to do so in a contested seat after Rep. Pete Olson, who is relinquishing his Houston-area 22nd District. Rep. K. Michael Conaway is the third retiring lawmaker, although his seat, which extends from the outskirts of Forth Worth to the New Mexico border, is not considered competitive.

House demands to see Trump’s cyberwarfare directive
But senators who oversee the Pentagon are not as concerned

Rep. Jim Langevin chairs the Armed Services Subcommittee on Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities. He’s part of a bipartisan group asking the Trump administration to share its secret cyberwarfare directive. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

A small but significant quarrel is emerging between a bipartisan team of lawmakers in the House and the Trump administration over how the Pentagon is going about using its newly minted authority to strike back against adversaries in cyberspace.

Democratic and Republican leaders of the House Armed Services Committee and its emerging threats subcommittee — in a rare instance of bipartisan pushback against the White House — have repeatedly asked administration officials for a still-secret memo issued by President Donald Trump that lifted earlier restrictions on U.S. Cyber Command’s operations against adversaries.

House approves NDAA with no Republican votes
Progressive amendments helped Dems earn votes from the party’s more dovish members in the face of Republican opposition

Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., talks with ranking member Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, right, before a House Armed Services Committee markup in Rayburn Building on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 on Wednesday, June 12, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House on Friday approved its defense authorization bill after adopting a slew of progressive amendments that helped Democrats earn votes from the party’s more dovish members in the face of Republican opposition.

The final vote on the fiscal 2020 bill was 220-197. No Republicans supported the typically bipartisan measure that traditionally has earned more than 300 of the 435 available House votes.

House votes Friday on war powers and border amendments
Republicans and progressives alike voiced deep reservations this week about the typically bipartisan measure

Friday's votes include an amendment from Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., that would repeal the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iraq. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House soldiered on through hundreds of amendments to the annual defense policy bill Thursday, but major issues — including authorization to use force and military involvement on the southern border — remain unresolved, as does the ultimate fate of the bill.

Lawmakers plan to vote on some of the most controversial amendments, as well as final passage of the measure Friday morning. Republicans and progressives alike voiced deep reservations this week about the typically bipartisan measure, and it is unclear that the last two days of debate assuaged their concerns.

Flatware gets its day in NDAA
House amendment would require Defense Department to buy from domestic manufacturers

Rep. Anthony Brindisi’s amendment is aimed at a flatware manufacturer in his upstate New York district. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As the House slogs through more than 400 amendments to the annual Pentagon policy bill, debate has centered on the deployment of U.S. troops to the southern border, a potential ban on some lower-yield nuclear weapons, war authorizations and … flatware.

Yes, flatware. Cutlery. Knives and forks and spoons. One of the 439 amendments put forth would require the Defense Department to buy “stainless steel flatware” and “dinner ware” from domestic, rather than foreign, manufacturers.

Republicans signal opposition to defense bill as floor debate kicks off
Amendments approved Wednesday included one to prohibit Pentagon from naming new DoD assets after confederate leaders or Civil War victories

“There is virtually no opportunity to improve the bill,” said Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, ranking member on the Armed Services Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House will continue its debate Thursday on the more than 300 remaining amendments offered to a wide-ranging defense policy bill, after adopting more than 100 noncontroversial amendments Wednesday.

Powerful Republicans signaled their displeasure with the typically bipartisan defense authorization bill, and with the amendments Democrats allowed for floor debate.