Week ahead in defense: Spending fight consumes Congress

Week ahead in defense: Spending fight consumes Congress
© Greg Nash

Congress in the coming week will be consumed by negotiations on spending.

Lawmakers reset the government shutdown clock by two weeks, but what happens then remains to be seen.

The House and Senate on Thursday passed a two-week stopgap spending measure known as a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government open and buy time to negotiate a longer-term deal. President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says 'Failing New York Times' should be held 'fully accountable' over Russia report Trump says 'Failing New York Times' should be held 'fully accountable' over Russia report Trump tweets ICE will begin removing 'millions' of undocumented migrants MORE signed the bill Friday.

On Thursday, the White House sounded bullish on a deal after a meeting between Trump and Republican and Democratic congressional leaders. A White House official said the group had reached a "tentative agreement" to raise defense spending.

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But congressional leaders were less optimistic. Asked Thursday if negotiators were any closer to a deal on the spending caps, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellJon Stewart rips into McConnell for saying he's 'bent out of shape' over 9/11 victim fund Jon Stewart rips into McConnell for saying he's 'bent out of shape' over 9/11 victim fund Tensions with Iran reach new stage over uranium threat MORE (R-Ky.) replied, "I wouldn't say that."

The White House and Republicans are eyeing a $54 billion increase in defense spending. But Democrats, as they long have, are insisting on an equal increase in nondefense spending. 

Further complicating matters this time around are Democratic demands on a fix for immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children and the renewal of the Children's Health Insurance Program, among other issues.

Democrats have leverage because the spending package needs 60 votes to pass the Senate, meaning at least eight Democrats in the upper chamber have to vote for it. That also complicates the plan being floated in the House to appease defense hawks.

With the notable exception of Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCainJohn Sidney McCainOvernight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Overnight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Senators revive effort to create McCain human rights commission MORE (R-Ariz.), hawks in both chambers largely voted for Thursday's continuing resolution, a contrast to September's CR vote.

But the hawks who voted "yes" Thursday have signaled they won't vote for stopgap spending for the Pentagon that extends into January. In response, House Republicans have proposed passing a regular defense appropriations bill coupled with a CR for the rest of the government.

That plan, though, is unlikely to fly with Senate Democrats.

"Just defense?" Senate Minority Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinOvernight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Overnight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments On The Money: Democrats move funding bills as budget caps deal remains elusive | Companies line up to weigh in on 0B China tariffs | Trudeau to talk trade with Pelosi, McConnell MORE (D-Ill.) told reporters this week. "No."

As negotiators hash out those issues, there are also a slew of committee hearings and outside events.

A Senate Foreign Relations Committee subpanel will hear from State Department officials on U.S. interests and coercive Russian diplomacy in European energy security at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, room 419. 

National security adviser H.R. McMaster will speak at the Policy Exchange conference on U.S.-U.K. relations at noon Tuesday at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington. 

A House Foreign Affairs Committee subpanel will hold a hearing on protecting North Korean refugees at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Rayburn House Office Building, room 2200. 

The House Veterans' Affairs Committee will get an update on the implementation of the Harry W. Colmery Educational Assistance Act of 2017, also known as the Forever GI Bill, at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Cannon House Office Building, room 334. 

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft will speak at a Navy League breakfast at 8 a.m. Wednesday at the Westin Crystal City in Arlington, Va. 

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hear from former defense and national security officials on strategic, political and legal considerations of using force at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in Dirksen 419. 

The House Veterans' Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on pre-discharge claims programs at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Cannon 334. 

A Senate Armed Services subcommittee will receive an update on research, diagnosis and treatment for traumatic brain injury and concussion in service members at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Russell Senate Office Building, room 222.

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke will speak on the future of combating terrorism and countering the use of weapons of mass destruction at 1:45 p.m. Wednesday at the Hudson Institute. 

A House Armed Services Committee subpanel will hold a hearing on addressing physiological episodes in fighter, attack and training aircraft at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at Rayburn 2118. 

National Guard Bureau Chief Gen. Joseph Lengyel with speak on the operational National Guard at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at the Air Force Association headquarters in Arlington, Va. 

The full House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a markup on pending litigation, including to reauthorize the United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Act of 2015 at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in Rayburn 2172. 

The full Senate Armed Services Committee will hear from former ambassadors on U.S. policy and strategy in the Middle East at 10 a.m. Thursday at Dirksen G-50. 

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will have a closed briefing on new counterterrorism guidance at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Senate Visitor Center, room 217. 

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing for the nominations of the deputy director for management and the inspector general for the office of personnel management at 10 a.m. Thursday in Dirksen 342. 

Rep. Ami BeraAmerish (Ami) Babulal BeraCruz pitches Ocasio-Cortez on bill to make birth control available over the counter Cruz pitches Ocasio-Cortez on bill to make birth control available over the counter To protect our health, we must act on climate MORE (D-Calif.) will speak at the Center for a New American Security on finding a common North Korea strategy with South Korea at 12:30 p.m. Thursday at the Washington Court Hotel. 

Former deputy assistant to President Trump Sebastian Gorka will speak at the Heritage Foundation on defeating terrorism in the age of Trump at 11 a.m. Friday at 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE. 

 

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