House Committee on Armed Services

Chair: Adam Smith

C-

Grade for the 116th Congress*

* Adjustments have been applied so that committees' grades are not lowered by the constraints on hearings caused by Covid-19 [oversight-index.thelugarcenter.org/covid-19-statement]

2 Investigative Oversight Hearings

79 Policy/Legislative Hearings

97 Total Hearings

Last updated: June 1, 2021, 4:46 p.m.

The committee has jurisdiction over the roughly $700 million in spending on the Pentagon and the weapons programs in the Department of Energy. Every year it reports out the National Defense Authorization Act, one of the few “must-pass” bills in the House. With 58 members, it is one of the largest committees in the House, and its members have a tradition of working in a bipartisan fashion. Because large military installations often have a major economic impact on the districts where they are located, House members from those districts aggressively seek out membership on the committee and the leadership in both parties tries to accommodate them. In addition to the direct spending on troops and military operations, the committee also has jurisdiction over the billions of dollars in procurement money paid to the private sector for weapons, equipment and supplies, (which can also be a locally important source of jobs) as well as billions more for private contractors who do much of the military’s work. The committee has seven subcommittees: airland; cybersecurity; emerging threats and capabilities; personnel; readiness and management support; seapower; and strategic forces.

Like its Senate counterpart, with which it usually works in parallel, the HASC traditionally maintains a busy hearing schedule commensurate with its vast responsibilities. Over the 111th to 115th Congresses (2009-2018), it held between 125 and 186 hearings each Congress, a pace exceeded by few House committees. However, despite the potential for waste and abuse in such a sprawling, globe-spanning enterprise, during those five Congresses it held an average of only two investigative oversight hearings per Congress. In the 116th Congress (2019-20), during the second two years of the Trump administration, overall hearing activity dropped sharply under new Chair Adam Smith (D-WA), with by far the fewest legislative/policy hearings and fewest total hearings during the period. Its D+ grade was the fourth lowest in the House.

The committee held two investigative oversight hearings during the 116th Congress. In February 2020 it looked into a GAO report on the Pentagon's shortcomings in meeting the special needs of service members' families. Later that month it held a hearing on "Alarming Incidents of White Supremacy in the Military."

Chairs

111th Congress: Ike Skelton (D-MO)

112th Congress: Buck McKeon (R-CA)

113th Congress: Buck McKeon (R-CA)

114th Congress: Buck McKeon (R-CA)

115th Congress: Mac Thornberry (R-TX)

116th Congress: Adam Smith (D-WA)


Current Congress

We are 100% of the way through the 116th Congress

House Committee on Armed Services

2 Investigative Oversight Hearings; 50% historical maximum
79 Policy/Legislative Hearings; 69% historical maximum
97 Total Hearings; 65% historical maximum

Committee History

Number of Hearings
Committee Hearing Performance
Investigative/Oversight Policy/Legislative Total Hearings Score Grade
111th Congress 1 142 186 100% A
112th Congress 3 140 159 96% A
113th Congress 1 105 128 72% C
114th Congress 0 121 140 80% B-
115th Congress 5 101 125 76% C
116th Congress* 2 79 97 70% C-
Historical average 2.0 114.7 139.2

* Adjustments have been applied so that committees' grades are not lowered by the constraints on hearings caused by Covid-19 [oversight-index.thelugarcenter.org/covid-19-statement]

Number of Hearings

--- Historical Average

Hearings held by the
House Committee on Armed Services

Date Hearing Title Committee Category