The turnover comes at a time when the Pentagon and defense industry are facing deep budget uncertainty due to sequestration.
The defense committees themselves are less powerful in today’s Congress where much of the power is consolidated in the leadership offices and the committee process has largely broken down.
Congress has also seen its number of military veterans dwindle, which is a natural recruiting pool for the defense industry and defense committees.
The disappearance of earmarks, meanwhile, has made it more difficult to get lawmakers interested in defense, industry officials say.
“If John Murtha was still around, we’d still have earmarks probably, and we wouldn’t have sequester,” said one defense lobbyist. “He was a very forceful leader, and had that relationship with the leadership that the others don’t have.”