United States Senate Committee on Armed Services

The Committee on Armed Services (sometimes abbreviated SASC for Senate Armed Services Committee on its Web site) is a committee of the United States Senate empowered with legislative oversight of the nation’s military, including the Department of Defense, military research and development, nuclear energy (as pertaining to national security), benefits for members of the military, the Selective Service System and other matters related to defense policy. The Armed Services Committee was created as a result of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 following U.S. victory in the Second World War. It merged the responsibilities of the Committee on Naval Affairs (established in 1816) and the Committee on Military Affairs (also established in 1816).

Considered one of the most powerful Senate committees, its broad mandate allowed it to report some of the most extensive and revolutionary legislation during the Cold War years, including the National Security Act of 1947. The committee tends to take a more bipartisan approach than other committees, as many of its members formerly served in the military or have major defense interests located in the states they come from.[1]


According to the Standing Rules of the United States Senate, all proposed legislation, messages, petitions, memorials, and other matters relating to the following subjects are referred to the Armed Services Committee:[2]

  1. Aeronautical and space activities pertaining to or primarily associated with the development of weapons systems or military operations.
  2. Common defense.
  3. Department of Defense, the Department of the Army, the Department of the Navy, and the Department of the Air Force, generally.
  4. Maintenance and operation of the Panama Canal, including administration, sanitation, and government of the Canal Zone.
  5. Military research and development.
  6. National security aspects of nuclear energy.
  7. Naval petroleum reserves, except those in Alaska.
  8. Pay, promotion, retirement, and other benefits and privileges of members of the Armed Forces, including overseas education of civilian and military dependents.
  9. Selective service system.
  10. Strategic and critical materials necessary for the common defense.

Members, 116th Congress

Majority Minority

Members, 115th Congress

Majority Minority

Source: [4]


Subcommittee Name Chair Ranking Member
Airland   Tom Cotton (R-AR)   Angus King (I-ME)
Cybersecurity   Mike Rounds (R-SD)   Joe Manchin (D-WV)
Emerging Threats and Capabilities   Joni Ernst (R-IA)   Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
Personnel   Thom Tillis (R-NC)   Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Readiness and Management Support   Dan Sullivan (R-AK)   Tim Kaine (D-VA)
Seapower   David Perdue (R-GA)   Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
Strategic Forces   Deb Fischer (R-NE)   Gary Peters (D-MI)


Committee on Military Affairs, 1816–1947

Chairman Party State Years
John Williams DR TN 1816–1817
George M. Troup DR GA 1817–1818
John Williams DR TN 1818–1823
Andrew Jackson DR TN 1823–1825
William Henry Harrison DR OH 1825–1828
Thomas Hart Benton D MO 1828–1841
William Preston W SC 1841–1842
John J. Crittenden W KY 1842–1845
Thomas Hart Benton D MO 1845–1847
Lewis Cass D MI 1847–1848
Thomas Hart Benton D MO 1848–1849
Jefferson Davis D MS 1849–1851
James Shields D IL 1851–1855
John Weller D CA 1855–1857
Jefferson Davis D MS 1857–1861
Robert Ward Johnson D AR 1861
Henry Wilson R MA 1861–1872
John A. Logan R IL 1872–1877
George E. Spencer R AL 1877–1879
Theodore Randolph D NJ 1879–1881
John A. Logan R IL 1881–1886
William Joyce Sewell R NJ 1886–1887
Joseph R. Hawley R CT 1887–1893
Edward Walthall D MS 1893–1895
Joseph R. Hawley R CT 1895–1905
Redfield Proctor R VT 1905
Francis E. Warren R WY 1905–1911
Henry A. du Pont R DE 1911–1913
Joseph F. Johnston D AL 1913
George E. Chamberlain D OR 1913–1919
James W. Wadsworth, Jr. R NY 1919–1927
David A. Reed R PA 1927–1933
Morris Sheppard D TX 1933–1941
Robert R. Reynolds D NC 1941–1945
Elbert Thomas D UT 1945–1947

Committee on Naval Affairs, 1816–1947

Chairman Party State Years
Charles Tait DR GA 1816–1818
Nathan Sanford DR NY 1818–1819
James Pleasants DR VA 1819–1823
James Lloyd F MA 1823–1825
Robert Y. Hayne D SC 1825–1832
George M. Dallas D PA 1832–1833
Samuel Southard W NJ 1833–1836
William C. Rives D VA 1836–1839
Reuel Williams D ME 1839–1841
Willie P. Mangum W NC 1841–1842
Richard H. Bayard W DE 1842–1845
John Fairfield D ME 1845–1847
David Levy Yulee D FL 1847–1851
William M. Gwin D CA 1851–1855
Stephen Mallory D FL 1855–1861
John P. Hale R NH 1861–1864
James Grimes R IA 1864–1870
Aaron Cragin R NH 1870–1877
Aaron A. Sargent R CA 1877–1879
John R. McPherson D NJ 1879–1881
James Donald Cameron R PA 1881–1893
John R. McPherson D NJ 1893–1895
James Donald Cameron R PA 1895–1897
Eugene Hale R ME 1897–1909
George C. Perkins R CA 1909–1913
Benjamin Tillman D SC 1913–1918
Claude A. Swanson D VA 1918–1919
Carroll S. Page R VT 1919–1923
Frederick Hale R ME 1923–1933
Park Trammell D FL 1933–1936
David I. Walsh D MA 1936–1947

Committee on Armed Services, 1947–present

Chairman Party State Years
Chan Gurney Republican South Dakota 1947–1949
Millard E. Tydings Democratic Maryland 1949–1951
Richard B. Russell Democratic Georgia 1951–1953
Leverett Saltonstall Republican Massachusetts 1953–1955
Richard B. Russell Democratic Georgia 1955–1969
John C. Stennis Democratic Mississippi 1969–1981
John Tower Republican Texas 1981–1985
Barry Goldwater Republican Arizona 1985–1987
Sam Nunn Democratic Georgia 1987–1995
Strom Thurmond Republican South Carolina 1995–1999
John Warner Republican Virginia 1999–2001
Carl Levin Democratic Michigan 2001
John Warner Republican Virginia 2001
Carl Levin Democratic Michigan 2001–2003
John Warner Republican Virginia 2003–2007
Carl Levin Democratic Michigan 2007–2015
John McCain Republican Arizona 2015–2018
Jim Inhofe Republican Oklahoma 2018–Present

Historical committee rosters

Members, 111th Congress

Majority Minority

Source: 2010 Congressional Record, Vol. 156, Page S6226


Subcommittee Chair Ranking Minority Member
Airland Joe Lieberman (I-CT) John Thune (R-SD)
Emerging Threats and Capabilities Bill Nelson (D-FL) George LeMieux (R-FL)
Personnel Jim Webb (D-VA) Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Readiness and Management Support Evan Bayh (D-IN) Richard Burr (R-NC)
SeaPower Jack Reed (D-RI) Roger Wicker (R-MS)
Strategic Forces Ben Nelson (D-NE) David Vitter (R-LA)

Members, 112th Congress

Majority Minority

Source: 2011 Congressional Record, Vol. 157, Page S557


Subcommittee Chair Ranking Member
Airland Joe Lieberman (I-CT) Scott Brown (R-MA)
Emerging Threats and Capabilities Kay Hagan (D-NC) Rob Portman (R-OH)
Personnel Jim Webb (D-VA) Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Readiness and Management Support Claire McCaskill (D-MO) Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)
Seapower Jack Reed (D-RI) Roger Wicker (R-MS)
Strategic Forces Ben Nelson (D-NE) Jeff Sessions (R-AL)

Members, 113th Congress

Majority Minority

Source: 2013 Congressional Record, Vol. 159, Page S296


Subcommittee Chair Ranking Member
Airland Joe Manchin (D-WV) Roger Wicker (R-MS)
Emerging Threats and Capabilities Kay Hagan (D-NC) Deb Fischer (R-NE)
Personnel Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Readiness and Management Support Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)
Seapower Jack Reed (D-RI) John McCain (R-AZ)
Strategic Forces Mark Udall (D-CO) Jeff Sessions (R-AL)

See also


  1. Steinhauer, Jennifer. "With Chairmanship, McCain Seizes Chance to Reshape Pentagon Agenda", The New York Times (June 9, 2015). Retrieved June 10, 2015.
  2. Rule XXV: Committees, Standing Rules of the United States Senate.
  3. Angus King is an independent, but caucuses with the Democrats.
  4. "U.S. Senate: Committee on Armed Services". Senate.gov. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  5. Sens. Lieberman and King were elected as Independents, but caucused with Democrats on the committee.
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