Buck McKeon

Buck McKeon
Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee
In office
January 3, 2011  January 3, 2015
Speaker John Boehner
Preceded by Ike Skelton
Succeeded by Mac Thornberry
Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee
In office
June 9, 2009  January 3, 2011
Leader John Boehner
Preceded by John McHugh
Succeeded by Adam Smith
Ranking Member of the House Education and Labor Committee
In office
January 3, 2007  June 9, 2009
Leader John Boehner
Preceded by George Miller
Succeeded by John Kline
Chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee
In office
February 2, 2006  January 3, 2007
Speaker Dennis Hastert
Preceded by John Boehner
Succeeded by George Miller
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 25th district
In office
January 3, 1993  January 3, 2015
Preceded by Edward Roybal
Succeeded by Steve Knight
Personal details
Born Howard Philip McKeon
(1938-09-09) September 9, 1938
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Patricia Kunz
Children 6
Alma mater Brigham Young University, Utah
Religion The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Howard Philip "Buck" McKeon (born September 9, 1938) is a former U.S. Representative, serving from 1993-2015. He is a member of the Republican Party. He was a former chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

On January 16, 2014, McKeon announced he would not seek reelection in the 2014 elections.[1]

Early life, education and career

Born in Tujunga, Los Angeles, California, McKeon graduated from Verdugo Hills High School in Tujunga. He spent two years as a Mormon missionary before enrolling at Brigham Young University.[2] He later received his Bachelor of Science degree in animal husbandry in 1985, after previously putting his studies on hold to raise a family and establish his early business career. He was the owner of a Western clothing shop until its bankruptcy in 1999[3] and has also served as the chairman of a small, regional bank. McKeon gained his first political experience when he was elected to the William S. Hart High School District board of trustees.

Early political career

McKeon was a one-term councilman of Santa Clarita, being one of the first to hold that post after the city incorporated in 1987. He held that position until entering the House.

U.S. House of Representatives

Committee assignments

In 2009, McKeon served as ranking member of the House Committee on Education and Labor. In June, President Barack Obama nominated Representative John M. McHugh of New York, who was the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee, as Secretary of the Army. On June 9, the House Republican leadership appointed McKeon as the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee. Under rules of the House of Representatives, McKeon was required to step down from his position as ranking member of the Education and Labor Committee, though he continues to serve on the committee. McKeon was named chairman of the Committee on Armed Services in January, following the Republican takeover of the House in the November 2010 elections.[4]

As a member of the House, he made education and defense issues two of his main priorities. He was greatly involved in the reform of the Student Loan Aid Program, which reduced interest rates but controversially increased federal control over education policy, such as teacher training. He also supports a strong national defense budget. Along with Dean Gallo of New Jersey, McKeon introduced the Religious Freedom Restoration Act on March 11, 1993. McKeon was a member of the Republican Study Committee.

Political campaigns

In 1992, California gained seven additional seats following the census. A new 25th District was created in the Santa Clarita and Antelope Valleys in north Los Angeles County and the communities of Chatsworth, Granada Hills, Northridge, and Porter Ranch in the northwestern San Fernando Valley. McKeon was thus the first congressman to represent the new district. In the 2002 reapportionment, the San Fernando Valley and portions of the Antelope Valley were removed from the 25th District while Inyo County, Mono County, and about half of the land area within San Bernardino County were added. The Los Angeles County portion of the district still includes the cities of Santa Clarita, Palmdale, and part of the city of Lancaster. In 2012, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission drew new lines for the 25th district. The new district now only contains those previous held areas of Los Angeles County, adds parts of Porter Ranch and Chatsworth in the San Fernando Valley, and expands into parts of Ventura County, including most of Simi Valley.[5]

During the 2006 election cycle, McKeon received 60% of the vote in his district, defeating Democrat Robert Rodriguez and Libertarian David Erickson. The district has been considered to be "safe" for the Republican Party because it includes predominantly Republican areas in the Antelope and Santa Clarita Valleys and conservative rural areas of the High Sierra and desert regions of California. Changes in ethnic demographics in the district may make it less a safe Republican district in the future. McKeon handily won reelection with 58% of the vote in 2008, even though Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama received more votes than his Republican rival John McCain.[6]

McKeon's campaigns received the greatest financial support from the defense industry, especially aerospace companies such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing.[7] Additionally, he is endorsed by the National Rifle Association, the National Federation of Independent Business, and the California Pro-Life Council .[7]

Political positions

McKeon served as the chairman on the Armed Services Committee. He held the position from January 2011 to January 2015. He was previously the ranking member of the committee. California's 25th District holds several military bases, including Fort Irwin, Edwards Air Force Base, Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, and the Marine Mountain Warfare Training Center.[8] Although he has spoken strongly against Obama's budgets and governmental support of the economy and has encouraged reducing spending, McKeon opposed cutting the military budget, stating, "a defense budget in decline portends an America in decline."[9]

McKeon voted in favor of American military intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as Barack Obama's Afghanistan "surge" strategy, and has voted for increasing money and supplies to troops there. He has gone on record saying that withdrawal from Afghanistan should be conditions-based, and done with full consultation with senior military leadership. In a statement from May 2010, McKeon outlined his personal philosophy on the role of the United States and its military, calling for a return to "peace through strength" and Reagan-esque policies, including full financial and material support for the military in its current wars, keeping Guantanamo Bay open, and military posturing.[8]

In a speech before the Foreign Policy Initiative research group in 2010, McKeon called for increases in government spending on defense above Obama's budgets.[10] He has also called on Congress to "embrace and build on" Robert Gates' plan to find $100 billion in savings in the defense budget.[11]

In 2011 McKeon organized a fundraiser for the "Lucky 13" Republican freshmen on the House Armed Services Committee to get contributions from defense contractor political action committees.[12]

McKeon inserted language into the 2012 National Defense Authorization Bill that would grant the President of the United States unprecedented powers to wage war freely against persons abroad.[13] Detractors, such as the American Civil Liberties Union and The New York Times, have claimed that it could lead to "unending conflict" and an unchecked spread of the war on terrorism. Authorizing force against "associated forces" to Al Qaeda in the AUMF update have been criticized as so vague that it could unintentionally authorize attacks on Iran, Yemen, the Horn of Africa, and others, including U.S citizens living at home and abroad.[14][15]

McKeon said if forced to choose between tax increases and cuts to the Pentagon budget, he would choose tax increases.[16] However he would prefer to cut entitlement spending instead.[17][18] In 2012, McKeon sought a one-year fix to stave off the defense budget cuts from sequestration, although he had previously voted for the Budget Control Act of 2011, which included sequestration.[19] McKeon led efforts by some Republicans that contributed to replacement of the sequester cuts for 2014 and 2015 with the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013.[20] In 2014 McKeon said of Obama's plan to raise taxes on banks and millionaires, "I think that would be wonderful but it’s not going to happen".[21] He dismissed calls to replace USMC jet fighters destroyed by the Taliban in the September 2012 Camp Bastion raid.[22][23]

McKeon is pro-life, and was endorsed by the California Pro-Life Council.[7] He does "not support amnesty for those who have entered the country illegally", and believes "that our country needs to remain focused on securing our borders and ports of entry".[24] The congressman threatened to derail the 2012 defense authorization bill unless it contained provisions prohibiting military chaplains from officiating at gay marriages and restricting access to the civil court system by persons suspected of terrorism.[4]

McKeon introduced the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015, a bill that the House Armed Services Committee renamed in his honor.[25][26] According to the House Armed Services Committee, which oversaw the legislation, the bill "will be the comprehensive legislation to authorize the budget authority of the Department of Defense and the national security programs of the Department of Energy."[27] The total appropriations that are authorized amount to approximately $600 billion for fiscal year 2015.[28]

Countrywide Financial loan

In January 2012, it was reported that McKeon received a so-called "VIP" or "Friends of Angelo" loan from troubled mortgage lender Countrywide Financial, in which loans were granted at lower interest rates than were available to the public. Former Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo created the program to boost the company's standing with politicians, celebrities and well-connected business figures. The congressman received a $315,000 loan from Countrywide at below-market rates in the late 1990s. A congressional probe identified an internal Countrywide email regarding McKeon's loan that stated: "Per Angelo—'take off 1 point, no garbage fees, approve the loan and make it a no doc.'"[29] McKeon and names of other legislators who received similar loans were subsequently referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform as part of an ethics investigation into improper gifts. McKeon denied knowing that he was part of Countrywide Financial's special loan program.[30][31] In a response to a press inquiry about his knowledge of the loan discounts McKeon stated, "If I had known we had got a good deal then I would have gotten all my loans from Countrywide."[32]


McKeon is married to the former Patricia Kunz; they have six children as well as 31 grandchildren.[33] They are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Patricia Kunz McKeon was active in her husband's political campaigns, serving as treasurer and drawing a salary, which has been the subject of controversy. According to a study by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, McKeon's campaign committees paid her a total of $263,168 between 2001 and 2006 - the highest such payment in the group of Representatives studied by CREW.[34] In the 2005-2006 election cycle she was paid $110,000 to do fundraising and prepare campaign finance reports.[35] She has also worked as a lobbyist.[36]

See also

Conservatism portal


  1. Cassata, Donna (January 16, 2014). "U.S. Rep. Howard 'Buck' McKeon announces retirement from Congress after 21 years". San Bernardino Sun.
  2. http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=M000508
  3. Bustillo, Miguel; Stassel, Stephanie (15 May 1999). "Howard & Phil's Stores Hang Up Their Hats". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 15 November 2011.
  4. 1 2 http://www.politico.com/blogs/joshgerstein/1011/Buck_McKeon_no_defense_bill_without_gay_marriage_ban_detainee_provisions.html
  5. California Citizens Redistricting Commission
  6. Democrats See Golden Pickup Opportunities in California, Roll Call, May 7, 2009
  7. 1 2 3 Endorsements, Project Vote Smart
  8. 1 2 Rep. Buck McKeon. Obama should return to 'peace through strength, The Hill, 05/05/10
  9. Freking, Kevin. "Calif. Republicans to wield power in new Congress". Associated Press State and Local Wire, 17 November 2010. Accessed Online.
  10. Capaccio, Tony. "China Threats Merit Shifting of U.S. Defense Dollars, House's McKeon Says". Bloomberg L.P., 15 November 2010
  11. McKeon, Howard "Buck". "Opposing view on defense spending: Military cuts 'a non-starter'". USA Today, 2 December 2010.
  12. Schwellenbach, Nick. "How Buck McKeon Is Showing GOP Freshmen the Ways of Washington". Time, 21 April 2011.
  13. Newman, Alex (16 May 2011). "Congress Considers Endless War, Worldwide". The New American. John Birch Society.
  14. https://www.aclu.org/blog/tag/AUMF
  15. "A Conflict Without End: House Republicans propose a dangerously expansive new definition of war". The New York Times. 17 May 2011. p. 26. Retrieved 16 June 2011.
  16. Bennett, John T. "GOP Rep. McKeon would support tax hike to stave off more Pentagon cuts". The Hill, 12 September 2011.
  17. Tiron, Roxana. "Republicans and Democrats Disagree on How to Save Defense Budget". Bloomberg News, 14 October 2011.
  18. Kreisher, Otto. "HASC Chair Flip Flops on Raising Taxes". Aol Defense, 14 October 2011.
  19. "McKeon wants to stop sequestration—and previous Pentagon budget cuts". The Hill. March 14, 2012.
  20. "Twilight of the Sequester" The Hill. December 13, 2013.
  21. Homan, Timothy R. (March 24, 2014). "Pentagon Sequester Cuts May Be Short Lived". The Fiscal Times. Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  22. WEISGERBER, MARCUS (3 April 2014). "DoD Sends Congress $36B Wish List, But Passage Unlikely". www.defensenews.com. Gannett Government Media. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  23. Seck, Hope Hodge (3 April 2014). "Marine Corps $2.5 billion wish list includes millions for new crisis response units". www.marinecorpstimes.com. Gannett Government Media. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  24. "Immigration Reform Still in the Spotlight". Daily News of Los Angeles, 15 November 2010, Valley Ed. A3. Online.
  25. "H.R. 4435 - All Actions". United States Congress. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  26. Medici, Andy (15 May 2014). "11 things you probably didn't know were in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015". Federal Times. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  27. "NDAA - National Defense Authorization Act". United States House Armed Services Committee. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  28. Bennett, John T. (8 May 2014). "HASC OKs $600B in 2015 DoD spending, nixes A-10 retirement plans". Military Times. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  29. Emshwiller, John (2012-01-18). "Mozilo Tied to Loan to Top Lawmaker". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2012-01-19.
  30. Leibovich, Mark (2012-01-14). "Countrywide 'V.I.P.' Loans Linked to 2 Congressmen". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-01-17.
  31. Bresnahan, John (2012-01-17). "Sessions got Countrywide VIP loan". Politico. Retrieved 2012-01-19.
  32. Holt, Jim (2012-01-18). "McKeon: Nobody told me loan had VIP treatment". The Santa Clarita Valley Signal. Retrieved 2012-01-19.
  33. "Buck McKeon - Family". Archived from the original on 2014-12-05.
  34. Lawmakers used campaign funds to pay relatives, USA Today, June 17, 2007
  35. Bill could generate family feuds, Politico, July 26, 2007
  36. Influence Explorer:Patricia McKeon

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Howard McKeon.
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Edward Roybal
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 25th congressional district

Succeeded by
Steve Knight
Preceded by
John Boehner
Chairman of the House Education Committee
Succeeded by
George Miller
Preceded by
Ike Skelton
Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee
Succeeded by
Mac Thornberry
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