Armed Services panel sets schedule for consideration of defense policy bill

Armed Services panel sets schedule for consideration of defense policy bill
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The House Armed Services Committee is ramping up work on its annual defense policy bill, releasing Thursday a schedule for consideration of the bill and letters on the fiscal 2019 defense budget.

“The committee is encouraged by the administration current budget submission for the national defense budget function,” House Armed Services Chairman Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryOvernight Defense: Dem senator met with Iranian foreign minister | Meeting draws criticism from right | Lawmakers push back at Pentagon funding for wall Lawmakers push back at Trump's Pentagon funding grab for wall US defense chief says Taliban deal 'looks very promising' but not without risk MORE (R-Texas) and ranking member Rep. Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithOvernight Defense: Dem senator met with Iranian foreign minister | Meeting draws criticism from right | Lawmakers push back at Pentagon funding for wall Lawmakers push back at Trump's Pentagon funding grab for wall Top Armed Services Republican: Pentagon using .8B on border wall 'requires Congress to take action' MORE (D-Wash.) wrote in a letter to House Budget Committee Chairman Steve WomackStephen (Steve) Allen WomackLawmakers trade insults over Trump budget cuts Deficits to average record .3 trillion over next decade: CBO Democrats don't expect to do 2020 budget MORE (R-Ark.) dated March 9. “Supporting the funding levels for current and future requirements will be necessary to recover readiness shortfalls, and this support should be specifically identified in the upcoming budget resolution.”

The letter was released Thursday in conjunction with a schedule for the Armed Services Committee’s markup of the fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

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The NDAA authorizes funding for the Department of Defense and all of its activities and frequently touches on hot-button issues. For example, last year’s House version would have created a "space corps" opposed by the Air Force but since endorsed by President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff blasts Trump for making 'false claims' about Russia intel: 'You've betrayed America. Again.' Poll: Sanders leads 2020 Democratic field with 28 percent, followed by Warren and Biden More than 6 in 10 expect Trump to be reelected: poll MORE.

The House Armed Services Committee will hold all six of its subcommittee markups April 26, according to a news release.

The full committee markup, which typically goes past midnight, will start at 10 a.m. on May 9, the release said.

The Trump administration has requested $716 billion for defense in fiscal 2019, in line with the bipartisan budget agreement Congress passed last month. The number covers the Pentagon and non-Pentagon defense programs such as the Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons programs.

Thornberry and Smith’s note to the Budget Committee, known as the annual “views and estimates” letter, said they hope the committees “construct a budget that reflects our commitment to meeting emerging threats and securing our national defense.”

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Smith wrote a separate letter to the Budget Committee, also released Thursday, that elaborates that while he supports the budget request, $716 billion is a “considerable sum” that needs “extensive oversight” to ensure it is wisely spent.

He also expressed concern that the administration’s request does not stick to Congress’s budget agreement for nondefense spending. 

“Reinforcing fiscal stability begins with a responsible budget resolution that addresses the full spectrum of defense and nondefense-related needs,” he wrote. “Therefore, the budget resolution must deviate from the president’s budget request and support [budget agreement] funding levels for [fiscal] 2019 for both the defense and nondefense categories of the discretionary budget.”