The Republican wave that will fill Congress next year includes the biggest class of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans yet.
At least 22 veterans of the current wars won their races Tuesday, Military Times reports
, including Joni Ernst, Iowa’s new GOP Senator and former Army service member, and Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton, another Army vet.
Ernst and Cotton are the first-ever Iraq War veterans to be elected to the upper chamber, Military Times notes
. Cotton, who had already represented Arkansas in the House, served in both Iraq and Afghanistan and was among the key Republican pickups that helped shift control of the Senate to the GOP.
Montana Democrat Sen. John Walsh is the only other senator to have served in Iraq, Military Times reports, noting he was appointed to the seat to fill a vacancy.
This year’s Congress has 17 veterans of the current wars.
The breakdown by Military Times shows six Democrats and at least 16 Republicans, and all 14 Iraq War veterans running for re-election in the House won their bids.
Still, Military Times reports the number of vets from all wars in Congress continues its decline next year, from 106 this session, though a few upsets will keep the total above 100, citing officials with the nonpartisan Veterans Campaign.
Congress has not had fewer than 100 lawmakers with military experience since the 1950s, when World War II veterans had just begun political careers, the newspaper notes. The current total, however, marks a sharp drop over the last 30 years, when almost 200 veterans served in the House and Senate.
Veterans Campaign officials told the newspaper the number of vets in the upper chamber is actually going up next year — the first time since 1982 that the Senate’s military credentials haven’t gone down after an election.
Committee assignments for the new veterans won’t be decided until late December, with a number expected to push for places on the Armed Services and Veterans Affairs’ committees, Military Times reports.
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