WASHINGTON ― The House GOP Steering Committee voted Tuesday to back Rep. Mike Rogers to replace Rep. Mac Thornberry as the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee in the next Congress, according to a source familiar with the situation.

The panel recommended Rogers, the Homeland Security Committee’s ranking member, over House Strategic Forces Subcommittee ranking member Mike Turner, R-Ohio. During the closed-door meeting, House Seapower Subcommittee ranking member Rob Wittman, R-Va., withdrew Tuesday and endorsed Rogers, the source said.

The full GOP conference is expected later this week to ratify the committee’s recommended slate of committee chairmen.

Rogers, 62, comes from a deep red district, which hosts Anniston Army Depot and part of Fort Benning. He was an architect in what eventually became the Space Force ― the first new military branch since 1947 ― with Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., when they led the Strategic Forces Subcommittee together.

House Democrats fared worse than expected in the Nov. 3 elections, buoying Republican hopes to win control of the chamber in 2022. If that happens, the panel’s top Republican would very likely become its chairman, steering the panel’s annual policy bill and oversight of the Biden administration’s Pentagon.

In the meantime, because House Democrats hold a slim majority and are fractured on defense issues, the ranking member is expected to wield an exceptional amount of influence in the committee’s business.

Joe Gould was the senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He had previously served as Congress reporter.

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