Week ahead in defense: Spending bill, Yemen vote top agenda

Week ahead in defense: Spending bill, Yemen vote top agenda
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Lawmakers are up against a deadline to pass a spending bill for the rest of fiscal 2018.

The budget deal agreed on by lawmakers in February included a stopgap spending measure that extended federal dollars until Friday, March 23.

Congress has the outline for a bigger plan to fully fund government departments until the end of fiscal 2018 and through fiscal 2019, but it still must pass an omnibus spending bill.

As lawmakers work out the details for the rest of the fiscal year, look out for any provisions that would give the Pentagon more flexibility on when it can spend its money.

The current fiscal year ends on Sept. 30, leaving just six months for the Pentagon to spend the $700 billion allocated to it.v

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Defense Department officials are now worried they'll have to rush to spend the money, and have asked for more flexibility in how and when they can use those dollars, including rolling over operations and maintenance funds into fiscal 2019.

There's also a call to temporarily sidestep the "80/20 rule," which stops federal agencies from spending more than 20 percent of their funding in the last two months of the fiscal year.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) earlier this month promised that lawmakers "are addressing the whole issue of flexibility."

That would be a relief for Army Secretary Mark Esper, who told reporters last week that he wants a year to spend the fiscal 2018 operations and maintenance money.

"I would prefer to have a year to spend those dollars, so if it means a day-for-day, for every day lost, a day gained or whatever, but again ... you have to have a process which can be audited, you have to have sufficient oversight. There are things you have to do," Esper told reporters after an event last week in Washington.

Outside budget talks, the Senate is looking to vote this week on whether or not to end U.S. military involvement in Yemen.

The United States has provided support for the Saudi campaign in Yemen's three-year civil war.

The resolution, which would pull from Yemen the U.S. forces not involved in fighting al Qaeda or related groups, will be brought up before Congress leaves for a two-week recess, Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersTrump: ‘Clapper has now admitted there was spying on my campaign’ Overnight Defense: Trump decision on Korea summit coming 'next week' | China disinvited from major naval exercise | Senate sends VA reform bill to Trump Senate sends major VA reform bill to Trump's desk MORE (I-Vt.) said Wednesday.

Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisPentagon: No change in military posture after North Korea talks fall through Two pilots eject before trainer jet crashes in Mississippi Kaine demands answers on Pentagon missions in Africa MORE is pressing lawmakers to reject the Senate proposal, arguing it would potentially harm Washington's partnership with Saudi Arabia and increase the chances of a war with Iran.

There are also a number of House and Senate hearings this week.

Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, will testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Hart Senate Office Building, room 216. 

Army Secretary Mark Esper, Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer and Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson will testify before the House Armed Services Committee at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Rayburn House Office Building, room 2118. 

The House Appropriations Committee's energy subpanel will hold a hearing on the National Nuclear Security Administration's fiscal 2019 budget request at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Rayburn 2362B. 

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a business meeting to consider several bills, treaties and nominations at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in Senate room 116. 

A House Armed Services Committee subpanel will hold a hearing on the submarine industrial base with testimony from Navy officials at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Rayburn 2212. 

A Senate Armed Services subcommittee will hold a hearing on Marine Corps ground modernization with testimony from Navy and Marines officials at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Russell Senate Office Building, room 232A. 

A House Armed Services subcommittee will hold a hearing on Navy readiness with testimony from Navy officers at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at Rayburn 2118. 

The Senate Intelligence Committee will have an open hearing on election security at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Hart 216. 

The House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on state and nonstate actor influence operations with testimony from former officials at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Rayburn 2118. 

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for the nominees to be ambassador to South Sudan and assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, room 419. 

A Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee will have a hearing on challenges for Lebanon with testimony from outside experts at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Dirksen 419. 

A House Armed Services subcommittee will hold a hearing on ground force modernization with testimony from Army and Marines officers at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Rayburn 2118. 

A House Foreign Affairs Committee subpanel will have a hearing on China's foreign influence operations with testimony from outside experts at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Rayburn 2167. 

Another Foreign Affairs subcommittee will hold a hearing on a potential U.S.-Saudi Arabia nuclear cooperation agreement with testimony from outside experts at 2 p.m. Wednesday in Rayburn 2172. 

The Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee will have a hearing on the administration's fiscal 2019 budget proposal at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Russell 418. 

A Senate Armed Services subcommittee will have a hearing on ballistic missile defense with testimony from Pentagon officials at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday at Russell 222. 

Another Senate Armed Services subcommittee will have a hearing on Navy shipbuilding programs with testimony from Pentagon officials at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday at Russell 232A. 

A House Armed Services subpanel will hold a hearing on military personnel posture with testimony from Navy, Air Force, Marines and Army officers at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at Rayburn 2212. 

A House Armed Services subcommittee will have a hearing on the fiscal 2019 budget request for nuclear forces with testimony from officials at 9 a.m. Thursday at Rayburn 2118. 

Energy Secretary Rick PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerryAmerican workers will power the renewables revolution. Let’s make sure they have the skills to succeed Five races to watch in the Texas runoffs Five Republican run-offs to watch in Texas MORE will testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee about the department's atomic energy defense program at 10 a.m. Thursday at Hart 216. 

A House Armed Services subcommittee will hold a hearing on the Pentagon's strategy, policy and programs for countering weapons of mass destruction at 10:30 a.m. Thursday in Rayburn 2212.

 

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