Week ahead: Pentagon seeks flexibility on $700B budget

Week ahead: Pentagon seeks flexibility on $700B budget
© Getty Images

Generals and administration officials will take the hot seat in the coming week to testify on President TrumpDonald John TrumpAccuser says Trump should be afraid of the truth Woman behind pro-Trump Facebook page denies being influenced by Russians Shulkin says he has White House approval to root out 'subversion' at VA MORE's fiscal 2019 budget request.

Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonFormer WH adviser: Trump will want to rejoin Paris climate pact by 2020 Why the US should lead on protecting Rohingya Muslims 'Bolivarian Diaspora' can no longer be ignored MORE, whose hearings last month were canceled after his father died, is now scheduled to testify Thursday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Tillerson can expect a grilling on the proposed 26 percent cut to the State Department's budget, with particular emphasis on the military's support for fully funding the department.


Meanwhile, lawmakers are also getting closer to the deadline to pass a spending bill for the rest of fiscal 2018.

When Congress passed a two-year budget deal last month, they also passed a stopgap spending measure that expires March 23.

As the spending package for the rest of the fiscal year gets finalized, one thing to keep an eye out for is whether the Pentagon gets flexibility on when it can spend its dollars.

The budget deal gives the Pentagon a $700 billion windfall — everything it asked for. But officials have been expressing concern that they'll have to rush to spend the money in the remaining six months of the fiscal year, leading to unwise decisions.

As such, they've asked for more flexibility in how and when the Pentagon is allowed to spend its money.

In a Senate Budget Committee hearing this week, Pentagon comptroller David Norquist asked for the ability to roll over operations and maintenance funds into the next fiscal year and for more flexibility in moving funds between accounts. He also asked for relief from the so-called 80:20 rule, which prohibits federal agencies from spending more than 20 percent of their funding in the last two months of the fiscal year.

In a separate hearing, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney FrelinghuysenRodney Procter FrelinghuysenExiting lawmakers put in calls to K Street Ex-New York Jets lineman mulling run for House SEC paperless mandate a bad deal for rural, elderly investors MORE (R-N.J.) promised some flexibility in the bill, without being specific.

"We are addressing the whole issue of flexibility," he said at a hearing with Navy leaders. "Oversight is important. Sometimes when you get a huge bucket of money people say, 'This is the gold mine.' But we — the committee still — I know under Ms. [Kay] Granger's [R-Teaxs] chairmanship [of the defense subcommittee], wants to make sure that all of those dollars are spent responsibly. So I think we worked out a path forward to provide that degree of flexibility you and the other services are looking for."

The hearing and event schedule for the coming week is packed.

Army Secretary Mark Esper, Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer and Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson will discuss the fiscal 2019 budget at the Center for Strategic and International Studies at 1:30 p.m. Monday in Washington. http://bit.ly/2FeYfeR

The Senate Armed Services Committee will hear from U.S. Central Command head Gen. Joseph Votel and Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, commander of U.S. Africa Command, at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in the Hart Senate Office Building, room 216. http://bit.ly/2Iie8QG

The heads of U.S. Army Cyber Command, Marine Forces Cyberspace Command, Air Forces Cyber and Navy Fleet Cyber Command will testify on the cyber posture of the services before a Senate Armed Services subpanel at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday in Russell Senate Office Building, room 222. http://bit.ly/2FoW7lH

Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, head of Air Force Materiel Command, will speak on current acquisition challenges and opportunities at an Air Force Association breakfast at 8 a.m. Wednesday in Arlington, Va. http://conta.cc/2If7WZB

Rep. Seth MoultonSeth Wilbur MoultonDem lawmaker calls for gun control debate in Congress 2020 Dem contenders travel to key primary states Scarborough: Trump a 'coward' for not acting on gun control MORE (D-Mass.) will speak on present and future dangers ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin's reelection at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. http://bit.ly/2Fs58dG

Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithTop Armed Services Dem hits Trump on military budget Pentagon budget euphoria could be short-lived Top admiral: North Korea wants to reunify peninsula, not protect rule MORE (D-Wash.), will speak on the future of base realignment and closure at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Cato Institute in Washington. http://bit.ly/2tvRQr3

The House Appropriations defense subcommittee will hear from Air Force Secretary Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein on the fiscal 2019 Air Force budget at 10 a.m. Wednesday on the House side of the Capitol Building, room 140. http://bit.ly/2oXZVjE

A Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee will hold a hearing on Somalia's current security and stability status at 10 a.m. Wednesday in Dirksen Senate Office Building, room 419. http://bit.ly/2IfaZ41

The House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on space warfighting readiness policies, authorities and capabilities at 10 a.m. Wednesday in Rayburn House Office Building, room 2118. http://bit.ly/2Fv0Cau

The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hear from outside experts on modernizing export controls at 10 a.m. Wednesday in Rayburn 2172. http://bit.ly/2Hk3oji

A House Armed Services subcommittee will hear from Air Force officials on the service's fiscal 2019 budget request for sea power and projection forces staff at 2 p.m. Wednesday in Rayburn 2212. http://bit.ly/2FBtGk1

A Senate Armed Services subpanel will hear from Energy Department and National Nuclear Security Administration officials on atomic energy defense activities at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in Russell 232-A. http://bit.ly/2IceHeN

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Director Steve Walker will speak at a House Armed Services subcommittee on the fiscal 2019 budget request for Department of Defense science and technology programs at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in Rayburn 2118. http://bit.ly/2Fx1mM7

Army Secretary Mark Esper and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley will appear before the House Appropriations defense subcommittee to discuss the fiscal 2019 Army budget request at 10 a.m. Thursday in the House side of the Capitol Building, room 140. http://bit.ly/2IeKtrx

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to discuss the fiscal 2019 State Department budget request and redesign plans at 10 a.m. Thursday in Dirksen 419. http://bit.ly/2De9vTV

Head of U.S. European Command Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti will testify before the House Armed Services Committee on security challenges in Europe and competition with Russia at 10 a.m. Thursday in Rayburn 2118. http://bit.ly/2oUoHBq

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioColbert: Students taking action on gun violence 'give me hope' Lawmakers feel pressure on guns Florida lawmaker's aide fired after claiming shooting survivors were 'actors' MORE (R-Fla.) will speak on countering authoritarianism and advancing U.S. interests in Latin America at 12:15 p.m. Thursday at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. http://bit.ly/2FvTKtB

Lt. Gen. Jerry Harris, Air Force deputy chief of staff, and Lt. Gen. Anthony Ierardi, director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for force structure, resources and assessments, will speak at a House Armed Services subpanel on the fiscal 2019 budget request for Air Force airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance programs at 2 p.m. Thursday in Rayburn 2212. http://bit.ly/2IdE5AG

Another House Armed Services subcommittee will hear from Assistant Secretary of Defense Kenneth Rapuano and head of Air Force Space Command Gen. John Raymond on the fiscal 2019 budget request for national security space programs at 3:30 p.m. Thursday in Rayburn 2118. http://bit.ly/2FmbPhD

Lt. Gen. Charles Hooper, director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, will speak on strengthening alliances and partnerships through defense cooperation at 10 a.m. Friday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. http://bit.ly/2If8K0z


Recent stories:

-- White House: North Korea must take 'steps' before Trump-Kim meeting

-- Trump agrees to meet with Kim

-- State Dept. announces over $450M in weapons sales to Qatar, UAE despite Gulf blockade

-- Senators to Trump: Keep pressure on North Korea while exploring talks

-- Top US general: Trump admin lacks unified effort to combat Russia cyber threat

-- Experts urge senators to back bill ending US involvement in Yemen war

-- US troops in Niger to receive hostile fire pay

-- Navy, Marine Corps leaders warn that China is 'weaponizing capital'

-- DC Veterans Affairs hit by scathing report citing 'failed leadership at multiple levels'