Week ahead: House panel to mark up defense policy bill

The House Armed Services Committee is scheduled this week to mark up the annual defense policy bill.

Formally known as the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, it authorizes funding for the Department of Defense and all of its activities, as well as the defense activities of the Department of Energy.

The bill does not appropriate funds, but it will determine how much can be spent on different programs, and how many troops each service can have.

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The bill, though, does determine defense policies on a number of issues, including Guantanamo Bay detainee transfers, military sexual assault policies and military base closures.

A particularly contentious and closely watched issue this year will be military compensation reform. Veterans groups have been lobbying ahead of time on proposals made by a commission appointed by Congress to make benefits more effective — and more affordable for the department.

Another hot button issue is whether the A-10 attack jet will survive another year. The Air Force has recommended retiring the plane for several years, and is attempting to do so again. Some members of the committee have begun an effort to safeguard the A-10 fleet.

The Emerging Threats and Capabilities and the Readiness subcommittees will begin their markups on Wednesday afternoon.

The Tactical Air and Land Forces; the Military Personnel; the Seapower and Projection Forces; and the Strategic Forces subcommittees will begin theirs on Thursday.

The full committee is scheduled to mark up and vote on the bill on April 29.

The House Appropriations Committee also has markup work, taking up the 2016 military construction and veterans affairs bill on Wednesday.

Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday takes up the nomination of Peter K. Levine as deputy Defense chief management officer, before turning to terrorism and irregular warfare.

On Wednesday, the panel takes up Air Force and Navy nuclear programs and the implementation of recommendations by the Nuclear Enterprise Review, as well as defense acquisition reforms.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday holds a hearing on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the State Department.

On Wednesday, the panel will examine a "responsible budget" for the State Department. Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Heather Higginbottom will testify on budgetary matters. On Thursday it hosts a hearing on the Africa Growth And Opportunity Act.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday looks at the nuclear agreement with Iran with top arms control experts and holds a hearing on human trafficking. On Thursday, the panel looks at U.S. policy in East Asia.

The House Veterans Affairs Committee will take a close look at alleged mismanagement at two VA facilities in Philadelphia and Oakland on Tuesday.

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee holds a hearing on women veterans, on Wednesday.

 

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