Big changes on horizon for defense panels

The Senate Armed Services Committee also lost five members, four through retirement and one who lost reelection Tuesday. The panel’s ranking member could be changing, too, as Sen. John McCainJohn McCainFox News bests major networks in convention ratings Meghan McCain: ‘I no longer recognize my party’ Why a bill about catfish will show whether Ryan's serious about regulatory reform MORE (R-Ariz.) is term-limited.

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The Senate Appropriations Defense panel has only one member leaving office, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), who is retiring.

A closer look at each committee:

House Armed Services

Tactical Air and Land subcommittee Chairman Roscoe Bartlett’s (R-Md.) loss Tuesday brought the total number of subcommittee heads leaving the Armed Services Committee to three, after that panel’s ranking member, Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas), lost in a primary and Seapower Chairman Todd Akin (R-Mo.) mounted an unsuccessful Senate bid.

The departures will spark a game of musical chairs in the committee for top spots on the sub-panels, with several other chairmen looking to lead more powerful subcommittees and others looking to fill those empty seats.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), whose father was chairman of the full committee, is most frequently mentioned as a potential member to move into leadership, although sources say that’s not a done deal yet.

Defense insiders say subcommittee Chairmen Randy ForbesRandy ForbesHouse GOP defense policy bill conferees named Ex-special ops group blasts Clinton email decision GOP rep faces recount in close primary race MORE (R-Va.), Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), Joe WilsonJoe WilsonOvernight Healthcare: Mysterious new Zika case | Mental health bill in doubt | Teletraining to fight opioids Cotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Green Beret: Nice attack part of orchestrated 'terror campaign' MORE (R-S.C.) and Rob WittmanRob WittmanHouse GOP defense policy bill conferees named GOP questions Obama's Afghanistan troop withdrawal Supreme Court to review Virginia state voting districts MORE (R-Va.) might all eye moves as the committee shakes out.

The number of full-committee members who will not be back next year totals at least nine, with another three members in races that have yet to be called.

Among the notable potential losses is Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.). The outspoken Tea Party freshman is currently trailing challenger Patrick Murphy (D) by about 2,500 votes in a race that’s yet to be called.

House Appropriations Defense

The Defense sub-panel will see a lot of turnover in 2013, with Dicks and two other Democrats leaving, Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) retiring and Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.) potentially stepping down as chairman.

Young requested a waiver to lead the committee in the 112th Congress after being term-limited. He has not said if he will try to do so again, and leadership has not indicated if the 21-term lawmaker would receive another waiver. Defense observers say if that does not happen, Reps. Rodney FrelinghuysenRodney FrelinghuysenCoal’s clout in Congress to take a hit House passes 6B defense spending bill House panel advances 5B defense bill MORE (R-N.J.) and Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) are likely to try and succeed Young.

On the Democratic side, Visclosky and Moran are seen as most likely to take over for Dicks, as Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) is vying for the full committee’s top Democratic spot.

If she doesn’t wind up getting it — particularly if someone from leadership returns to the committee — the possibility remains that she could leapfrog the other Democrats in seniority on the Defense panel, defense insiders say.

Senate Armed Services

The Senate Armed Services panel will see four members depart. Three Democrats will leave through retirement: Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and Jim Webb (D-Va.). A fourth, Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), lost his reelection bid to Sen.-elect Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren hammers Trump at Latino event Trump tries to stoke liberal anger at Kaine pick Clinton VP pick could face liberal ire MORE (D-Mass.) on Tuesday.

But perhaps the biggest change in the committee will be felt with the looming departure of McCain as ranking member. The vocal critic of President Obama is term-limited, with Sen. James InhofeJames InhofeFeds withdraw lesser prairie-chicken protections A GMO labeling law that doesn’t require English? No thanks! Majority of GOP senators to attend Trump convention MORE (R-Okla.) next in line to replace him.

McCain could request a waiver to remain the committee’s ranking member, but he’s made no indication yet that he would do so.

One new face that’s likely to join the committee is Sen.-elect Tim KaineTim KaineDemocrats vote to overhaul superdelegate system Clinton to call on Black Lives Matter at Dem convention Progressive group changes tone on Kaine MORE (D-Va.), who will replace Webb after defeating former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) in the military-heavy state.

Senate Appropriations Defense

This panel is seeing the least change of the four defense committees on election night, as only Hutchison is departing.

There could be movement, however, if senators eye open spots on other Appropriations subcommittees.