Week ahead: House turns to Defense spending bill

“While this is not the traditional process for this bill, there are a number of sensitive and ongoing issues related to national security that are more appropriately handled through an orderly amendment process ensuring timely consideration of this important measure,” Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) wrote to lawmakers.

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The Defense spending bill has been considered under an open rule in recent years, where any amendments can be offered.

The prospect of a limited amendment process has riled some conservatives, particularly Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), who vowed to use the Defense bill to try to de-fund the NSA’s spying programs.

House GOP leadership delayed the Rules meeting last week over concerns that conservatives might join with Democrats to defeat the rule on the floor, according to defense sources.

Eight amendments have been filed to the Defense bill on Syria, all of which restrict military aid or action without congressional approval. Amash has submitted two of the three amendments that would restrict the NSA.

Amash’s spokesman said Friday that a resolution between the Michigan Republican and House leaders had not yet been reached.

The Senate this week will hold the first hearing on closing the detention facility in Guantánamo Bay since 2009. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a proponent of closing the prison, is chairing the hearing in the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday is holding a hearing on the situation in Egypt. Some lawmakers have called for a suspension of U.S. aid after the military’s ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.

The Senate Armed Services panel has another confirmation hearing this week, with four nominees scheduled to testify: Stephen Preston for Pentagon general counsel, Jon Rymer for inspector general and two Navy assistant secretary nominees.

On the House side of the Capitol, the Armed Services Committee is holding a hearing Wednesday on the military’s rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, a key strategy shift announced one year ago that some say is threatened by sequestration.

The panel is also holding hearings on women in the service Wednesday and on the littoral combat ship program Thursday.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday examining cyber security and Asia.