Week ahead: ISIS, Ebola and nukes top packed agenda

Lawmakers are wading deeper into the national security and defense issues they left on the backburner during the midterm election cycle.

On Tuesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hear about the latest developments in the U.S. effort against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).


Senators will be following up on last week’s House Armed Services Committee hearing, where Defense Secretary Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelOvernight Defense: Navy medic killed after wounding 2 sailors in Maryland shooting | Dems push Biden for limits on military gear transferred to police | First day of talks on Iran deal 'constructive' 140 national security leaders call for 9/11-style panel to review Jan. 6 attack Trump Afghan pullout deal unachievable, says ex-Pentagon leader MORE said the U.S-led military coalition is making “progress” against the terror group.

The panel meets again on Wednesday to consider the nomination of deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken to take over the No. 2 post at the State Department. 

The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee will gather Tuesday to receive an update on the state of veterans’ mental health and the issue of suicide. The hearing will likely delve into the changes made at the Veterans Affairs Department since lawmakers passed multibillion-dollar legislation in response to a scandal over patient wait times.

In the House, Foreign Affairs subpanels will meet Tuesday to examine a pair of global threats.

In the morning, the Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations subcommittee will question health experts to get the “ground-level view” on the fight against the Ebola outbreak in Africa. That same afternoon the subpanel on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade will hear from think tank experts on the merits of a nuclear deal with Iran.

The U.S. and five other countries are working to get Iran to dismantle its illicit nuclear program in exchange for lifting economic sanctions. The deadline for the negotiations is Nov. 24.

On Wednesday, the subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa will examine the next steps for U.S. policy in Iraq and Syria.

The Armed Services subcommittee on Military Personnel will also convene on Wednesday to receive testimony on “religious accommodations” in the military.

The Foreign Affairs Middle East and North Africa subpanel is set to come together again on Thursday to look into the implications of a nuclear deal with Iran.

Off Capitol Hill, Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteSununu seen as top recruit in GOP bid to reclaim Senate Lobbying world Overnight Defense: NATO expanding troops in Iraq MORE (R-N.H.) is scheduled to give a speech Wednesday morning at the conservative American Enterprise Institute about the future of U.S. missile defense policy. Afterward, former Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) will moderate a panel discussion on missile defense.

On Thursday, Sen. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkDuckworth announces reelection bid Brave new world: Why we need a Senate Human Rights Commission  Senate majority battle snags Biden Cabinet hopefuls MORE (R-Ill.) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) will give remarks at the Foreign Policy Initiative on the potential ramifications of the Iran nuclear talks.

Also on Thursday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey will give the keynote address at a half-day conference put on by the Center for a New American Security focused on the future of the armed forces.


Recent Stories:

Hagel: ISIS campaign is making progress: http://thehill.com/policy/defense/224018-hagel-isis-campaign-is-making-progress

GOP senators: Don’t tie Obama’s hands in fight against ISIS: http://thehill.com/policy/defense/223967-gop-senators-isis-measure-shouldnt-limit-obamas-military-options

Senators vow to ‘act decisively’ against weak Iran nuke deal: http://thehill.com/policy/defense/223875-senators-vow-to-act-decisively-against-weak-iran-nuke-deal

Lawmakers push back at plans to end A-10: http://thehill.com/policy/defense/224044-lawmakers-push-back-at-air-force-plans-to-end-a-10

Veterans Affairs tries to move forward: http://thehill.com/policy/defense/223584-veterans-affairs-tries-to-move-forward