Thornberry won't seek re-election

Rep. Mac Thornberry (Photo: House Armed Services Committee)

Mac Thornberry, the House Armed Services Committee's top Republican and a leading voice for consolidations and closures in the Defense Department's "fourth estate" announced on Sept. 30 that he won't seek reelection in 2020.

"It has been a great honor to serve the people of the 13th District of Texas as their congressman for the last 25 years. They have given me opportunities to serve the nation in ways I could have never imagined, including as Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee," Thornberry said in a statement. "In January 2021, I will no longer have the honor of representing the people of the 13th District of Texas, but I will never be indifferent to the responsibility each of us has to serve and protect our beloved nation."

In the national political picture, Thornberry joins a crowd of Texas Republican lawmakers racing for the exits ahead of the 2020 elections, including federal IT expert Rep. Hurd. In all, six GOP lawmakers from the Lone Star State have opted not to seek reelection.

Thornberry, who served as HASC chairman from 2015 to 2019, has been a huge proponent of defense acquisition reforms, operational cuts -- particularly in DOD's agencies known as the Fourth Estate -- and more defense spending for emerging tech and undoing the effects of several years' worth of continuing resolutions.

The congressman, who proposed bills in May that would impose consequences for DOD's failed reform efforts, recently asked for a report on DOD's progress cutting the Fourth Estate's costs by 25%. "As I have said before, I am not confident that the Pentagon's initial reform plan is sufficient to find 25% cost savings across these operations," he said in a Sept. 24 statement.

The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act mandates the DOD chief management officer submit cost savings for fiscal 2020 by Jan. 1, 2020. Justification that such cuts would "create inefficiencies" is due Oct. 1, according to the legislation.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said a cost-cutting Fourth Estate review was underway. And while Thornberry plans to stick around to see at least some of these efforts through, it remains to be seen who will pick up the reins on DOD acquisition and business reforms.

"Thanks to Mac's leadership, during the 115th Congress we focused on acquisition reform and accountability at the Pentagon," HASC Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said in a statement. "Together we have passed smart reforms that give our men and women in uniform the resources they need to make our country safer."

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is a staff writer at FCW covering defense and cybersecurity.


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