Rep. Barber Goes Roy Hibbert On GOP’s Marcin Gortat-Like Mark Up Defense

Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat (left) battles with Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert on Wednesday night. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat (left) battles with Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert on Wednesday night. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

For Democratic members, the House Armed Services Committee’s mark up of Pentagon policy legislation didn’t seem like much fun. Time and again, they offered amendments. Time and again, the GOP majority swatted them away like Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat. But one Democratic member scored big.

About halfway through the 13-hour session, the panel’s Republican’s killed an amendment from Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., that would have restricted funding for the littoral combat ship (LCS) program. She claimed lawmakers have failed to carry out ample oversight of the program, which has had cost overruns and testing issues.

Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., called Duckworth’s amendment “courageous,” saying it was a “tough” one to bring up in the mostly pro-military committee. She noted Duckworth last year offered a similarly “tough” measure that would have restricted the often-troubled F-35 program’s funding.

Duckworth had gone strong to the legislative basket, only to be swatted away by the Gortat-like GOP majority.

Later, HASC Ranking Member Adam Smith, D-Wash., tried to block a GOP plan to block a Navy proposal to retire 11 cruisers to save money.

Smith jousted with Republicans over whether a bigger Navy meant a more-ready Navy, and whether retiring the ships really would save money.

Get that legislative shot out of here, Republicans essentially said, swatting away Smith’s amendment. Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., called it “ridiculous.”

But as evening turned to night and Wednesday approached Thursday, the panel turned to just what to do about the Air Force’s plan to retire its A-10 attack plane fleet — and Chairman Buck McKeon’s compromise plan to wrap them in two layers of latex and store them.

That’s when one Democrat, Rep. Ron Barber, D-Ariz., offered a measure to block the Air Force’s plans. The measure passed, 41-20, the most resounding and high-profile Democratic win of the mark up.

While Democrats mostly had a rough day, Barber won big. And he took what amounted to a victory lap in a statement, while also vowing to keep up the A-10 fight.

“Today the House Armed Services Committee took an important step to support our ground troops and prevent the A-10 from being divested. We will continue this fight in the weeks to come. We will continue it together as a community in Tucson and I will continue to bring the fight to Washington alongside my colleagues in the House and Senate, Republican and Democrat alike.”

One might say Barber went Roy Hibbert — the Indiana Pacers center who helped lead his team to a big playoff win over the Wizards on Wednesday evening — on the GOP Gortat-like defensive machine.

John T. Bennett

John T. Bennett

Bennett is the Editor of Defense News' CongressWatch channel. He has a Masters degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
John T. Bennett