MCKEON RETURNS TO ARMS PANEL REGION TO HAVE VOICE IN POLICIES.
SANTA CLARITA -- U.S. Rep. Howard ``Buck'' McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, is returning to the House Armed Services Committee, giving the region's aerospace industry a voice as Congress determines defense priorities.
McKeon is returning to the committee after a leave of absence he took in July 2006 when he was named chairman of the House of Representatives' Committee on Education and the Workforce. McKeon lost the chairmanship of the education committee when the Democrats regained control of Congress, but he will remain with that panel as the ranking Republican.
McKeon had served on the Armed Services Committee from January 2003 to July and will retain his seniority.
The announcement of McKeon's return to the committee came on the same day the president announced plans to bolster troops in Iraq with more than 21,000 personnel.
``He is supportive of the president,'' McKeon spokesman James Geoffrey II said. ``He believes it (the troop buildup) has to be part of a broader strategy. It can't be open-ended. The goal has to be an Iraq that can support itself.''
Another major focus will be quality-of-life issues -- ensuring military service personnel and their families have services and support they need.
``We have a lot of work to do,'' McKeon said in a statement announcing his return to the committee. ``With the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the anticipated restructuring of the armed forces and the possibility of other potential overseas challenges, the committee is going to be in the eye of the storm in 2007.''
Missouri Democrat Ike Skelton will chair the Armed Services Committee. The ranking Republican will be former chairman and San Diego-area Republican Duncan Hunter.