Week ahead: Spending standoff in Senate

The Senate could come to a halt, with both Republicans and Democrats poised for a fight over the annual Pentagon spending measure.

On Thursday, Democrats blocked the roughly $576 billion Defense Department appropriations bill from coming to the floor for debate, objecting to its $38 billion boost to the Pentagon’s war fund.

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That funding maneuver allowed Republicans to circumvent budget caps on defense spending. But Senate Democrats are vowing to hold up the Pentagon bill and all other spending measures unless Republicans sit down for talks to ease all of the spending limits set by the 2011 Budget Control Act. Democrats want to erase the caps for both defense and nondefense spending.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCoronavirus talks collapse as negotiators fail to reach deal Pelosi, Schumer say White House declined T coronavirus deal COVID-19 bill limiting liability would strike the wrong balance MORE (R-Ky.) has suggested the chamber could turn to votes on trade bills next, but he could try to revive the spending measure before the week is out despite the Democratic opposition and a veto threat from President Obama.

Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, on Wednesday morning the House Homeland Security subcommittee on counterterrorism will examine the Obama administration’s plan to resettle potentially thousands of Syrian refugees inside the U.S.

Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) has voiced concerns that terror groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) could exploit the effort and create a “federally funded jihadi pipeline” into the country.

That same afternoon, the House Armed Services subcommittee on emerging threats will hear from analysts about the U.S. strategy against ISIS. 

The hearing comes after Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told the full committee that the effort to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels to battle the terror group is falling well short of expectations.

Thursday morning, the full committee will receive an update on U.S. nuclear programs. Witnesses include second-in-command officials from the Defense and Energy departments, as well as the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

At the same time, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will meet to hear from think tank experts about the 2013 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the framework that froze parts of Iran’s nuclear effort and brought Tehran into talks with Western powers.

Republicans charge that the Iranians did not fully disclose the extent of their nuclear program when the deal was struck, setting a bad precedent as world powers work with the country to finalize a long-term nuclear agreement by June 30.

Off Capitol Hill, Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyDemocrats try to force Trump to boost medical supplies production Overnight Defense: Air Force general officially becomes first African American service chief | Senators introduce bill to block Trump armed drone sale measure | State Department's special envoy for Iran is departing the Trump administration Senators introduce bill to block Trump armed drone sale measure MORE (D-Conn.) will give an address at the Wilson Center on Monday on "a new foreign policy for America."

On Tuesday morning, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) will speak at the Atlantic Council.

 

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