Week ahead: Mattis heads to the hill

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Defense Secretary James Mattis will give his first congressional testimony of 2018 in the coming week.

The appearance Tuesday alongside Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Gen. Paul Selva will focus on the Pentagon’s two big recently completed undertakings — the National Defense Strategy and the Nuclear Posture Review.

Mattis unveiled the National Defense Strategy in a speech last month. The strategy focuses on a return to a so-called great power competition with rivals such as Russia and China, while also keeping an eye on rouge nations such as Iran and North Korea and the ongoing threat of terrorism.

The Nuclear Posture Review was unveiled Friday by Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shannon, Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon.


The nuclear review reaffirms support for maintaining and modernizing all three legs of the triad, meaning the ability to deliver nuclear weapons by land, sea and air. The document also calls for the development of a so-called low-yield submarine-launched Trident nuclear ballistic missile, as well as a sea-launched cruise missile to replace the retired nuclear-armed Tomahawk.

Also look for Mattis and Selva to hammer lawmakers on Congress’s continuing budget dysfunction.

The pair is testifying days before the Feb. 8 expiration of a continuing resolution (CR), the fourth such stopgap spending measure of the fiscal year.

Congress is expected to pass a fifth CR that would extend to about March 23. That means the Pentagon, along with the rest of the federal government, would spend about half the fiscal year under stopgap spending.

Mattis could also be asked to fill in some details of the $716 billion fiscal 2019 defense budget request he told Republicans about at a party retreat this week.

“I’m not subtle,” Mattis told GOP lawmakers at their annual retreat at The Greenbriar resort in West Virginia.

“I need to make the military more lethal. Some people think I’m supposed to be an equal-opportunity employer,” Mattis added, according to several sources in the closed-door meeting, a likely shot at Democrats who want any increase in defense spending to be matched by nondefense spending.

Mattis and Selva’s testimony before the House Armed Services Committee kicks off at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Rayburn House Office Building, room 2118.

In addition to their testimony, several hearings and events are on tap for next week.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) will deliver a state of national security address at 10 a.m. Monday at the George Washington University Center for Cyber and Homeland Security in Washington.

Retired Army Gen. Philip Breedlove, former Supreme Allied Commander Europe, will speak on enhanced deterrence in Europe at 2 p.m. Monday at the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington.

Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) will speak on Russia’s cyber operations in Ukraine and beyond at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Atlantic Council in Washington.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hear from outside experts on U.S. cyber diplomacy at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Rayburn 2172.

The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the Department of Veterans Affairs Caregiver Support Program at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Cannon House Office Building, room 334.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hear from Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan on the administration’s South Asia strategy on Afghanistan at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, room 419.

A House Homeland Security subcommittee will hold a hearing on ensuring effective and reliable alerts and warnings at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the House Visitor Center, room 210.

A House Foreign Affairs subcommittee will hear from outside experts on the way forward in Syria at 2 p.m. Tuesday in Rayburn 2172.

Another House Foreign Affairs subpanel will hear from outside experts on U.S.-Pakistan Relations at 2 p.m. Tuesday in Rayburn 2200.

A Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee subcommittee will hear from budget and management experts on uncertainty in funding the government at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday in Dirksen 562.

A House Armed Services subcommittee will hear from NASA and military officials on physiological episodes that are endangering pilots in fighter aircraft at 3:30pm Tuesday in Rayburn 2118.

The vice chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force and the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps will testify before a House Armed Services subcommittee on preventing misconduct among senior leaders and promoting accountability at 9 a.m. Wednesday at Rayburn 2118.

Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) will speak on the U.S.-Ukraine cybersecurity partnership at 10 a.m. Wednesday at George Washington University in Washington.

A Senate Armed Services subcommittee will hold a hearing on the Pentagon’s role in countering weapons of mass destruction with testimony from government officials at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Russell Senate Office Building, room 232A.

The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee will consider pending legislation at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in Russell 418.

Another Senate Armed Services subpanel will hear from Army officials on modernization of their branch at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at Russell 222.

Army Under Secretary Ryan McCarthy will speak on the next steps for the Army at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

Former Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney General John Yoo will speak on war powers and military force at 5:15 p.m. Thursday at the Atlantic Council in Washington. 


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Tags Continuing resolution James Mattis James Mattis Jim Mattis Michael McCaul National Defense Strategy Nuclear Posture Review Week ahead Will Hurd
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