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Gary Peters appointed to Senate Armed Services panel

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — U.S. Sen. Gary Peters has been named to serve on the powerful Senate Committee on Armed Services during the session of Congress that starts next month.

Peters’ selection will return a Michigan voice to the panel for the first time since the retirement of Sen. Carl Levin in 2014. A longtime member of the committee, Levin had chaired the panel from 2001 to 2003 and from 2007 to 2011.

The Armed Services committee oversees the nation’s military, including the Department of Defense, national security elements of nuclear energy as well as aeronautical and space activities.

Peters said the role will complement the work he’s doing on the Senate Homeland Security Committee. A former lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve, Peters has focused on national security issues in Congress, including cybersecurity. He will now sit on three of the five Senate committees with jurisdiction over cybersecurity issues.

“It gives me a stronger platform to advocate for our local installations. I’m going to be fully engaged with the Air National Guard, for example, to hopefully bring the new F-35 aircraft to the Selfridge Air National Guard base and bringing the national missile defense system to the Battle Creek base,” Peters told The Detroit News.

Peters, D-Bloomfied Township, also said he will push for the Armed Services committee, as well as the Homeland Security panel, to hold hearings in the new year on the Russian cyber-intrusion into the U.S. presidential election, noting that U.S. intelligence agencies agree on the analysis supporting Russian involvement.

Peters called for an “appropriate” response, so that the Russian government gets a clear message that the U.S. won’t tolerate such attacks and that “there will be a price to be paid,” he added.

“The Russian cyberattacks into our country were a direct attack into national sovereignty and national security,” Peters said.

“I’ve certainly been surprised by comments made by President-elect Trump. He seems to discount the professionals that work every day in the intelligence community, and instead chooses to take talking points from President Putin and the Russian government. It’s unprecedented that an American president-elect side with Russians over American national defense professionals.”

Peters in August traveled with a bipartisan delegation to the Ukraine, Estonia, Morocco, the Czech Republic and Iceland, where he and other members of Congress discussed with allies the threat from Russian aggression, as well as terrorism in the Middle East.

Peters said he and the members stressed to allies the U.S. commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, as well as contributions of Arab allies in fighting terrorism.

He made another national-security focused trip in January, with stops including Turkey, Israel and Austria, as well as a trip to the Middle East last year to Iraq, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar to discuss anti-ISIS operations and humanitarian concerns.

Major General Gregory Vadnais, adjutant general of the Michigan National Guard, praised Peters’ selection.

“I am pleased Michigan will now have such a strong representation on the Senate Armed Services Committee,” Vadnais said in a statement.

Peters’ appointment requires formal ratification by the Senate Democratic caucus. He will continue to serve on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee; the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee; and the Joint Economic Committee, according to his office.

mburke@detroitnews.com

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