Week ahead: Defense bill heads to marathon markup

Time to pull the Rip It energy drinks out of storage; the marathon markup of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is coming.

The House Armed Services Committee is scheduled to convene at 10 a.m. Wednesday for an all-day, all-night session to work out the finer points of the annual defense policy bill.

The subcommittees finished their portions this week, and Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) detailed his highlights Thursday.

To the surprise of no one, Thornberry said he’s pursuing a $640 billion base defense budget in the bill.

Still, he stressed congressional negotiations were ongoing and that the number might be lowered if he gets assurances on future defense budgets.

The last-minute postponement Friday of a planned background briefing to reporters stoked speculation that such a deal is near. The briefing is now scheduled for Monday.

Thornberry has argued for months that $640 billion is what’s needed to address what he and other defense hawks have called a “readiness crisis.”

But President Trump proposed a $603 billion base defense budget, and the House Budget Committee is eyeing a $621 billion defense base budget.

The Armed Services subcommittees included several items in their portions of the NDAA above what Trump requested. For example, the Seapower subpanel recommended five more ships for the Navy than Trump’s budget, and Military Personnel recommended 17,000 more soldiers for the Army.

Last year’s markup ended at 2:34 a.m., considered on the earlier side for the committee.

Some of the lengthy fights of years past — such as the one on everyone’s favorite bird, the sage grouse — could be precluded with a Republican in the White House. But don’t bet on getting out of the Rayburn House Office Building too early.

The Senate Armed Services Committee is also scheduled to start marking up its version of the bill, and other committees have a slew of hearings on tap.

The Senate Armed Services Airland subcommittee will hold a closed markup of its portion of the fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act at 4 p.m. Monday at the Russell Senate Office Building, room 232A.

The House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee will hold a closed markup of its version of the FY-18 Defense Appropriations Bill at 7 p.m. Monday in the U.S. Capitol building, room 140.

The Senate Armed Services Readiness subcommittee will hold a closed markup of its portion of the bill at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at Russell 232A.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley will testify before a House Appropriations subpanel at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Rayburn House Office Building, room 2359.

The Senate Armed Services Cybersecurity subcommittee will hold a closed markup of its portion of the fiscal 2018 NDAA at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Russell 232A.

The Senate Armed Services Personnel subcommittee will hold an open markup of its up its portion of the bill at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Dirksen Senate office Building, room G-50.

A House Foreign Affairs Committee subpanel will hear from outside experts on terrorist threats to Europe at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Rayburn 2172.

The Senate Armed Services Seapower subcommittee will hold a closed markup of its up its portion of the fiscal 2018 NDAA at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at Russell 232A.

The Senate Armed Services Emerging Threats subcommittee will hold an open markup of its part of the bill at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at Dirksen G-50.

The Senate Armed Services Strategic Forces subcommittee will hold a closed markup of its fiscal 2018 NDAA portion at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Russell 232A.

The full Senate Armed Services Committee will mark up the fiscal 2018 NDAA in a closed hearing starting at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at Russell 222.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley will also testify before the full House Foreign Affairs Committee on advancing U.S. interests at the United Nations at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Rayburn 2172.

The Senate Intelligence Committee will hear from outside experts on Russia’s interference in recent and future European elections at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Hart Senate Office Building room 216.

The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee will hold a markup on the Veterans Appeals Implement and Modernization Act on Wednesday off the Senate floor in the U.S. Capitol in conjunction with afternoon votes.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will have a closed briefing on recent developments with North Korea at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

NASA Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot will speak before the Senate Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies subcommittee on NASA’s fiscal 2018 budget request at 10 a.m. Thursday at Dirksen 192.


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— VA pledges action on 1,200 vacant, underused buildings

— Armed Services chairman moves forward with $640B policy bill

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