Week ahead: Obama readies final push to close Gitmo

Expect defense issues to get prime-time attention when President Obama delivers his final State of the Union address on Tuesday.

Aides have promised this year's speech will be "nontraditional." In a preview, Obama said he plans to talk about "the big things that will guarantee an even stronger, better, more prosperous America for our kids."

Obama will deliver the speech amid his final push to shutter the military prison at Guantanamo Bay.

ADVERTISEMENT
The president has promised to present a plan this year that will close the detention facility, fulfilling a pledge he made in his first campaign for president.

Since year began, the administration has transferred three more detainees out of the facility as officials ramp up efforts to close it. The Pentagon notified Congress last month that 17 detainees were ready for transfer, meaning 14 more potential transfers in the coming weeks.

Terrorism also remains at the center of public attention.

After attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., rattled the American populace, the administration has been working to push back on the perception Obama does not have a strategy to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Obama has a stage to make his case again on Tuesday night.

Lawmakers will also be busy, with both the House and Senate in Washington.

On Monday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is slated to hold a secret briefing with senior U.S. government officials on North Korea's recent claims of detonating a hydrogen bomb.

On Tuesday, a subpanel of the House Foreign Affairs Committee plans to hold a hearing discussing the Congressional-Executive Commission on China's annual human rights report.

The same day, the House Foreign Affairs Committee is to hold a hearing on the U.S. response to North Korea's "nuclear provocations."

The House Armed Services Committee is planning four hearings next week. Of note, on Tuesday, the panel will question former top Defense and State Department officials on ISIS, including former acting CIA Director Michael Morell, former Defense Undersecretary Michael Vickers, and former Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford.

On Wednesday, the panel plans to look at the effects of reduced investment in base infrastructure on the Air Force and hold a separate hearing on military commissary reform.

 

Recent stories: 

-- Marine general: US advisers should embed with Iraqi forces: http://bit.ly/1n8zIeS

-- Panetta testifies before Benghazi Committee: http://bit.ly/1SECyEz

-- Sexual assault reports rise at military academies: http://bit.ly/1MXRC8V

-- House Democrats seeking compromise on AUMF: http://bit.ly/1PjqSl4

-- Pentagon announces Guantanamo detainee transfer to Kuwait: http://bit.ly/1O9mHdS