Caucus Belli

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The Congressional Air Mobility Caucus takes off (counter-clockwise from right): Air Force General Raymond Johns, chief, U.S. Air Mobility Command, Rep. Tom Cole, Co-Chair Rep. Mike Pompeo, Co-Chair Rep. John Garamendi, Reps. Brad Sherman, Dana Rohrabacher, Judy Chu, Jon Runyan, Adam Schiff, Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, and Steve Austria.

When the defense budget begins tightening, nervous lawmakers don’t circle the wagons – they set up a caucus. That’s what happened earlier this week as about a dozen lawmakers created the Congressional Mobility Air Forces Caucus. It’s no doubt driven, in part, by the Air Force’s just-announced plan to trim its transport fleet (see second item here).

“Air mobility — the ability to rapidly transport assets around the world — plays a crucial role in America’s 21st Century national defense,” caucus co-chair Rep. John Garamendi D-Travis AFB, Calif., said. Added his fellow co-chairman: “The ability of the United States to respond rapidly to any location on the planet is only possible because of our superior air mobility capacity,” said Rep Mike Pompeo, R-McConnell AFB, Kansas. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, of course.

But it does highlight lawmakers’ willingness to march in lockstep to protect whatever is vital to their districts. The logic has always been that if everyone is selfish, the greater good will be served, eventually.

But to the outsider it signals a further polarization inside Congress, when what is needed is a willingness for lawmakers to put aside their old rice bowls and shibboleths and weigh the bigger issues facing the country, and its national security.

The lawmakers can argue that they’re only representing the folks who sent them to Washington, and they need to focus like an ABL laser beam on economic issues important back home. And that’s true enough, as far as it goes.

Just wonder how it’ll be possible for the Congressional Mobility Air Forces Caucus to get its way. Especially as it competes for shrinking defense dollars with the Senate Army Caucus, the Senate ICBM Coalition, the Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus, the Congressional Long-Range Strike Caucus, the Congressional Submarine Caucus, the Congressional Shipbuilding Caucus and the rest of the cauci fighting for their slice of the Pentagon pie.