House Committee on Armed Services

Chair: Adam Smith

C-

Projected 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

70 Policy/Legislative Hearings

84 Total Hearings

Last updated: June 26, 2020, 10:14 a.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 whom it usually works in parallel, the HASC traditionally maintains a busy hearing schedule commensurate with its vast responsibilities. Over the 111th to 114th Congresses (2009-2018), it held between 128 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 four Congresses it held only five investigative oversight hearings. In the 115th Congress (2017-18), in the second term of Republican chair Mac Thornberry and the first two years of the Trump administration, total hearing activity dropped to 125, and policy and legislative hearings dipped to 101, the lowest figure in the 10-year period. But the 115th saw a resumption of investigative oversight hearings with five, compared to none in the 114th Congress.

In the 115th Congress, the committee held the following investigative oversight hearings: in February of 2017, it held a hearing into an Inspector General’s report that cleared top officers at U.S. Central Command of allegations that they manipulated intelligence reports but found other troubling issues with respect to intelligence at CENTCOM; in July, 2017, it reviewed a Government Accountability Office report that showed lax controls in a Pentagon program to transfer excess military equipment to civilian law enforcement agencies, including $1.2 million worth of equipment sent to a fake company set up by GAO investigators; also in July, it looked into GAO and inspector general reports that the Pentagon couldn’t keep track of the equipment it was sending to the Iraqi army to fight ISIS and, in a separate hearing, into bureaucratic snafus regarding camouflage uniforms for Afghan soldiers; and in January, 2018, it held a hearing to grill the Navy’s top military and civilian leaders about the service’s response to two deadly collisions during routine operations in the Pacific.


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 82% of the way through the 116th Congress

House Committee on Armed Services

2 Investigative Oversight Hearings; 46% historical maximum
70 Policy/Legislative Hearings; 57% historical maximum
84 Total Hearings; 52% 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 70 84 70% C-
Historical average 2.0 113.2 137.0

* 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