Tactical

Defense bill work ramps up, but Senate keeps debate out of public view

Both the House and Senate Armed Service committees will mark up their annual defense authorization bill drafts this week, but the public will only get to see one of them do their work.

That’s because Senate lawmakers have opted to continue their tradition of conducting the high-stakes defense policy work behind closed doors. All of the subcommittee work — except for the personnel subcommittee, which will hold a public hearing on Wednesday — and the full committee debate is closed to the public, shutting off insight into where senators stand on the debates that will shape the Defense Department for years to come.

In contrast, the House Armed Services Committee will hold an open markup of its draft bill on Wednesday. The work is expected to last more than 14 hours. In the last 11 years, the marathon event has only finished before midnight twice.

The public debate includes hours of discussion over spending priorities, personnel requirements and policy changes. Senate lawmakers have said the open debate prompts posturing and inhibits frank discussions. House lawmakers insist the work should be done in a matter where all Americans can observe and learn about the issues.

By the end of the week, both committees are expected to have their separate versions of the legislation ready to head to their respective chamber floors for votes. After that, House and Senate leaders will spend the next few months negotiating a compromise bill, with the goal of sending the measure to the White House sometime this fall.

Tuesday, June 20

House Veterans’ Affairs — 3 p.m. — 360 Cannon
VA Financial Management
Department officials will testify on financial management changes and how they impact service to veterans.

Wednesday, June 21

House Armed Services — 10 a.m. — 2118 Rayburn
NDAA markup
The full committee will mark up its draft of the annual national defense authorization bill.

House Foreign Affairs — 10 a.m. — Visitors Center H210
Pending Legislation
The committee will consider several pending bills.

House Homeland Security — 10 a.m. — 310 Cannon
Latin America
Outside experts will testify on U.S. policy towards Latin America.

Senate Foreign Relations — 10 a.m. — 419 Dirksen
Pending Legislation
The committee will consider several pending bills.

Senate Armed Services — 10:30 a.m. — 106 Dirksen
Personnel Defense Budget
The personnel subcommittee will mark up its section of the annual defense authorization bill in public.

House Veterans’ Affairs — 10:30 a.m. — 360 Cannon
Pending Legislation
The subcommittee on health will consider several pending bills.

Senate Foreign Relations — 2 p.m. — 419 Dirksen
Pending Nominations
The committee will consider several pending nominations.

Senate Veterans’ Affairs — 3:30 p.m. — 418 Russell
Veteran Care
Department officials will testify on current operations of the Office of Integrated Veteran Care.

Thursday, June 22

House Veterans’ Affairs — 10 a.m. — 360 Cannon
Member Day
House members will offer their ideas for veteran program reforms.

House Foreign Affairs — 10 a.m. — Visitors Center H210
Africa
State Department officials will testify on the fiscal 2023 foreign operations budget request for Africa programs.

House Homeland Security — 10 a.m. — 310 Cannon
Cybersecurity Talent Pipeline
Outside experts will testify on demand for cybersecurity jobs in the near future and the available talent pool in the United States.

House Foreign Affairs — 11 a.m. — 2200 Rayburn
Worldwide Anti-Semitism
Outside experts will testify on growing threats of anti-Semitism worldwide.

House Foreign Affairs — 1 p.m. — Visitors Center H210
Europe and NATO
State Department officials will testify on U.S. policies towards Europe and NATO.

House Oversight — 1 p.m. — 2154 Rayburn
Homeland Security Technology
Outside experts will discuss available technology advances for homeland security operations.

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.

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