USCHS Hosts Armed Services Committee Staff Panel

On April 9th, 2021 the United States Capitol Historical Society (USCHS) hosted a virtual panel discussion featuring Congressional Staff from the Armed Services Committees. The bipartisan, bicameral group of speakers included Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, House Majority Staff Director Paul Arcangeli, Senate Majority Staff Director Elizabeth King, House Minority Staff Director Chris Vieson, and Senate Minority Staff Director John Wason. USCHS President and CEO Jane Campbell moderated the panel.

USCHS Capitol Committee members enjoyed a front row seat to the animated discussion of the Armed Services Committee’s work and specifically the unique perspectives that the members of our panel have gained. Secretary Hagel experienced many sides of the Armed Services Committee, having worked as a former house staffer, Senator, executive appointee and in conjunction with Congress as Secretary of Defense. Other members of the panel shared personal experiences that have shaped their work. Elizabeth King traveled all over the world with Senator Reed; Paul Arcangeli served in the Army and taught demining around the world before he became a committee staffer; Chris Vieson drove from Arizona to DC when he was younger, decided to stay, and has since worked in various members offices and committees; John Wason served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army. What they all share, though, is an appreciation for the bipartisanship of this Committee.

Our panelists worked together for years; Secretary Hagel worked closely with King while she was the Assistant Secretary of Congressional Affairs, and the various Staff Directors have spent years in the Committees switching from majority and minority staff as Congress shifted. They all work closely together and have developed a deep sense of comradery, especially while passing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA is a must- pass bill in congress and is known to be a primary vehicle to pass amendments. Vieson mentioned that when he worked for Congressman Eric Cantor, he used to relax and put his feet up when the Armed Services Committee was on the floor, because he knew they were a committee that always got the job done. The panel examined how they have grown to cooperate and compromise well with each other.

The discussion at one point turned to the events that occurred on January 6, and how the aspects of the aftermath of the insurrection will most likely land in their jurisdiction. It will be exciting to see the legislation and solutions this committee generates in the future. At the conclusion of the panel, USCHS President and CEO Jane Campbell thanked the panelists for sharing their wisdom, experience, and time with the guests.