Week ahead: Defense bill nears finish line

Week ahead: Defense bill nears finish line
© Greg Nash

The annual defense policy bill is heading toward the finish line after House and Senate negotiators wrapped up talks and released the final version of the bill.

The House Rules Committee is scheduled to meet Monday evening on the compromise National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) -- meaning it could come to the floor later in the week.

House and Senate negotiators agreed to a bill that would authorize a total of $692.1 billion in defense spending.

That would be broken down into $626.4 billion for the base defense budget and $65.7 billion for a war fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account.


But the dollar figures come with a caveat: Congress still hasn't reached a budget deal to raise spending caps, which the NDAA busts through.

The NDAA is a policy bill, meaning it can move forward regardless. But if caps aren't raised, tens of billions of dollars authorized in the NDAA won't materialize.

Outside of money, the compromise bill has a number of interesting policy provisions.

A plan to create a new military branch dedicated to space was dropped from the bill, but the Pentagon would still be required to contract an independent study on the issue. The bill would also reorganize the military's space operations in a number of smaller ways.

The bill also touches on two U.S. treaties with Russia, while leaving a third treaty alone. It would also require President Trump to give Congress his North Korea strategy, mandate the Pentagon conduct a climate change study and authorize 3,500 more visas for Afghans who helped U.S. troops.

In the coming week, the Air Force will also have a draft report on how the service handled the criminal record of the Texas church shooter.

Former Air Force serviceman Devin Kelley shot and killed 26 people at a church in Texas. It was discovered that Kelley had been court-martialed in 2012 for domestic violence, including assaulting his wife and an infant.

He received a bad conduct discharge in 2014 after serving his sentence.

The Air Force, though, did not notify the FBI and his record was not entered into the National Criminal Information Center, which is used for background checks on gun purchasers.

If the information had been shared, it would have been harder for Kelley to purchase firearms.

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said Friday that investigators had spoken to over 100 people in their probe and said a report would be coming in the week ahead.

A report Friday said the military missed three chances to prevent Kelley from buying guns.

A number of House and Senate hearings as well as outside events are also on tap in the coming week.

The House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing on assessing the current threat at the U.S.-Canada border at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the House Visitors Center, room 210. http://bit.ly/2AAkAPc

The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Anthony Kurta to be principal deputy undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness, James McPherson to be general council of the Army and Gregory Maggs to be judge for the Armed Forces U.S. Court of Appeals at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Dirksen Senate Office Building, room G-50. http://bit.ly/2zN0wfk

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hear from former defense officials on the authority to order the use of nuclear weapons at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Dirksen 419. http://bit.ly/2zpTmgc

Outside experts will testify in front of a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on American leadership in the Asia Pacific at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday in Dirksen 419. http://bit.ly/2yr0aqo

U.S. Transportation Command head Gen. Darren McDew will speak at an Air Force Association breakfast event at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Capitol Hill Club, 300 First St. SE in Washington. http://bit.ly/2ztBkty

Veterans Affairs Secretary David ShulkinDavid Jonathon ShulkinOvernight Defense: Trump says 'rogue killers' could be behind missing journalist | Sends Pompeo to meet Saudi king | Saudis may claim Khashoggi killed by accident | Ex-VA chief talks White House 'chaos' | Most F-35s cleared for flight Former VA chief Shulkin: 'Chaos' probably a 'pretty accurate term' to describe Trump White House Veterans group sues to block advisers known as ‘Mar-a-Lago Crowd’ from influencing VA MORE will testify before a House Appropriations subpanel on oversight of VA electronic health records at 10 a.m. Wednesday in Rayburn House Office Building, room 2362-A. http://bit.ly/2ztFaTo

Three former Navy secretaries will speak at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on the prospects and challenges of building the 350-ship Navy at 10 a.m. Wednesday at 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW, Washington. http://bit.ly/2ym4FF5

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hear from State Department officials on response and oversight regarding the attacks on U.S. diplomats in Cuba at 2 p.m. Wednesday in Dirksen 419. http://bit.ly/2yoWUM1

The House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing on maximizing the value of cyber threat information sharing at 2 p.m. Wednesday in the House Visitors Center 210. http://bit.ly/2iKs2ii

A Senate Appropriations subpanel will hear from Veterans Affairs officials on VA efforts to prevent and combat opioid over medication at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday at Dirksen 124. http://bit.ly/2jfv4z9

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a closed hearing on new counter-terrorism guidance with Maj. Gen. Albert Elton, the Joint Staff deputy director for special operations and counterterrorism, and State Department officials at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Senate Visitor Center, room 217. http://bit.ly/2AsDiat

The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for John Rood to be undersecretary of Defense for policy and Randall Schriver to be assistant secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific affairs at 10 a.m. Thursday at Dirksen G-50. http://bit.ly/2ypjB2w


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