Week ahead: Pentagon spending bill to be unveiled

The Appropriations committees are set to unveil this week how they will cut roughly $25 billion from the Pentagon’s budget.

Appropriators say they expect the omnibus government funding measure could be released as early as Sunday, and that it will include a slimmed-down appropriations bill for the Pentagon.

{mosads}The measure will set funding levels laid out in last month’s budget deal, which reduced planned sequester cuts to the Pentagon by $22 billion in 2014.

That still leaves the military with a smaller budget than it requested for 2014 by roughly $30 billion, but Appropriations leaders say that major weapons programs like the F-35 and littoral combat ship are safe from any major changes.

Appropriators have said the Pentagon bill is basically done, and it is the other spending bills that are still being hashed out between the House and Senate committees before the omnibus is released.

As a result, the chambers are preparing to pass a three-day continuing resolution to give lawmakers time to finish and pass the spending bills. Defense officials say that the short stopgap won’t have an impact on Pentagon operations.

Late this week, President Obama will reveal his proposal to reform the National Security Agency.

The White House said Obama will deliver a speech next Friday to detail what changes he intends to make to the NSA surveillance programs.

“He will be remaking remarks to discuss the outcomes of the work that has been done in the review process,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said last week.

The reforms come after the White House has reviewed 46 recommendations made by an NSA review panel, which has called for additional transparency and privacy protections to the agency’s surveillance activities.

According to early reports, Obama is expected to call for a halt to the government collection of telephone metadata and ask phone companies or a third party to retain control of that information.

The president is also expected to call for additional oversight of the National Intelligence Priorities Framework, which is used to rank intelligence goals and for decisions on whether to surveil foreign heads of state.

Congress will also be getting back to work with a slate of hearings.

The House Homeland Security Committee plans to hold a hearing Wednesday on the “false narrative” from the Obama administration that al Qaeda is on the run.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said in announcing the hearing that “the President’s narrative fails to reflect the reality that al Qaeda is not on the run, but is in fact growing in strength at an alarming rate across the Middle East and Northern Africa.”

Witnesses include former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), former Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and retired Gen. Jack Keane, the former Army vice chief of staff.

On Tuesday, the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees are holding a joint hearing on the Chinese maritime disputes.

The Armed Services Personnel subcommittee on Thursday will examine the military’s recruiting challenges amid the Pentagon’s budget troubles.

The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a nomination hearing Thursday for three nominees: Madelyn Creedon, to be principal deputy administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, Brad Carson, to be Army undersecretary, and William LaPlante, to be assistant Air Force secretary for acquisitions.

Tags National Security Agency Pentagon budget

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