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 TrumpWhere do we go from here? Conservation can show the way Gov. Ron DeSantis more popular in Florida than Trump Sotomayor accuses Supreme Court of bias in favor of Trump administration 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.


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 McConnellWhere do we go from here? Conservation can show the way Russian interference reports rock Capitol Hill Top GOP super PAC spent money on NC Democrat 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: GOP lawmaker takes unannounced trip to Syria | Taliban leader pens New York Times op-ed on peace talks | Cheney blasts paper for publishing op-ed GOP lawmaker makes unannounced trip to northeastern Syria Meghan McCain after Gaetz says Trump should pardon Roger Stone: 'Oh come on' 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 Energy: EPA to regulate 'forever chemicals' in drinking water | Trump budget calls for slashing funds for climate science centers | House Dems urge banks not to fund drilling in Arctic refuge Democratic senators criticize plan that could expand Arctic oil and gas development Democratic senators ask DOJ watchdog to expand Giuliani probe 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 BeraLawmakers frustrated with lack of emergency funds for coronavirus Overnight Health Care — Presented by Philip Morris International — Trump officials to allow Medicaid block grants | WHO declares emergency over coronavirus | CDC reports first coronavirus case that spread in US WHO declares public health emergency over coronavirus 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. 


Recent stories:

— US pursuing 'economic and military' options after Russia arms treaty dispute

— Pentagon not happy with another stop-gap spending bill

— Trump asks for emergency stay on accepting transgender military recruits by Jan. 1

— Mattis, Tillerson warned Trump of security concerns in Israel embassy move

— VA reverses plan to cut homeless veteran housing program after outrage

— Trump pressures Saudi Arabia on Yemen blockade

— Pentagon: Four times as many US troops in Syria than previously acknowledged

— Boeing dispute derails sale of Super Hornet fighters to Canada: report

— CBO: Trump military buildup adds $683 billion to Pentagon budget over 10 years

— Air Force makes criminal reporting changes after Texas massacre