Senate Armed Services increases open markups

The Senate’s Armed Services Committee’s markup of the Defense authorization bill will get a little more transparent this year, as three subcommittee will hold open markups of the annual Defense policy bill.

Last year, the Readiness subcommittee, led by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), was the only subpanel to hold an open markup of the bill, which authorizes roughly $600 billion in defense spending.

Now the Airland, Personnel and Readiness subcommittees will all make the markup process open when the committee works on the Defense authorization bill in June. The committee announced the schedule Thursday.

The full committee markup, where many of the bill’s contentious policy issues are hashed out and voted on, will remain closed, the committee said.

The House Armed Services Committee is the only one of the four congressional defense panels with a fully open markup process for its annual budget bill, which occurs in a marathon session that typically runs well past midnight.

A committee spokeswoman said that the decision to open up the markup process is up to individual subcommittee chairmen.

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) are all holding open markups this year.

The National Defense Authorization Act authorizes the Pentagon’s budget levels and sets Pentagon policy. It has been signed into law for 51 straight years.