Would chairmanship compromise Thornberry?

U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry is in line to become chairman of one of the House of Representatives’s most powerful committees.

There’s a possible conundrum in the works, maybe, potentially … whatever.

Thornberry is vice chair of the House Armed Services Committee. The chairman, Buck McKeon, R-Calif., is planning on retiring and he wants Thornberry, R-Clarendon, to take over the chairmanship. It means a good bit of influence is coming to the Panhandle. A committee chairman can steer legislation favorable to his or her district, yes?

Thornberry’s 13th Congressional District is home to, oh, the Bell aircraft assembly plant in Amarillo, the one that puts together those V-22 Osprey tiltrotor airplanes. It also services and refurbishes helicopters for the Marine Corps, the Air Force and the Army. Bell’s operation means a great deal to the region.

Would a new chairman work extra hard to protect those interests? Or … would he hold to the principle of staying away from what’s been called “pork-barrel politics,” which has been a hallmark of Thornberry’s congressional career.

He’s served in Congress since 1995. He is running for yet another term and faces two GOP primary challengers this March and a Democratic challenger this fall.

I’m guessing the incumbent is going to use — in some vague or perhaps overt way — the possibility of a House Armed Services Committee chairmanship as a selling point.

It would be good for the district. Does doing what’s good for the district mean more money coming this way? Is that pork-barrel politics?

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