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This week in Congress: Mattis and the defense budget

March 20, 2017 (Photo Credit: Virginia Mayo/AP)
WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary James Mattis will appear before Congress for the first time in his Cabinet role this week, to discuss upcoming defense budget plans before the House Appropriations Committee.

The Wednesday event will be Mattis’ first public comments on President Trump’s military spending plans, which would boost defense funding by billions of dollars but still fall short of what some conservatives on Capitol Hill had hoped for.

Mattis is just one of several high-profile defense-related witnesses before Congress this week. Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright will testify before the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, head of U.S. European Command, will testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.

And the final round of veterans groups will be on Capitol Hill Wednesday to testify before House and Senate lawmakers on their priorities for Congress this year. The nine groups scheduled to attend join the 12 others who have already offered their views in recent weeks.

Tuesday

Senate Armed Services -- 9:30 a.m. -- Dirksen G50
Europe
Retired Gen. Philip Breedlove and other outside experts will testify on U.S. policy and strategy in Europe.

House Oversight -- 10 a.m. -- Rayburn 2154
DOD waste
Lawmakers will review reports of potential ways to trim waste and redundancy at the Department of Defense and reports that officials ignored those recommendations.

House Armed Services -- 10 a.m. -- Rayburn 2118
American leadership
Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright and former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley will testify before the committee on the role of American leadership in global security.

House Foreign Affairs -- 2 p.m. -- Rayburn 2172
North Korea
Outside experts will testify on ways for U.S. officials to influence and stabilize North Korean policies.

House Armed Services -- 3:30 p.m. -- Rayburn 2118
Social media policies
Lawmakers will review military social media policies in light of the recent scandals involving photo sharing of military colleagues in several services.

Wednesday

Senate Foreign Relations -- 10 a.m. -- Dirksen 419
Humanitarian efforts
Officials from the U.S. Agency for International Development and U.S. Institute of Peace will testify before the committee on the state of global humanitarian affairs.

House Appropriations -- 10 a.m. -- Rayburn 2362A
VA IG
VA Inspector General Michael Missal will testify before the committee on challenges facing the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Senate Homeland Security -- 10 a.m. -- Dirksen 342
DHS staffing
Department of Homeland Security officials will testify on staffing resources and requirements for future missions.

House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs -- 10 a.m. -- Dirksen G50
Veterans groups’ priorities
Officials from the Military Officers Association of America, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the Military Order of the Purple Heart and other veterans groups will testify on their legislative priorities for 2017.

House Armed Services -- 10 a.m. -- Rayburn 2118
Hybrid warfare
Outside experts will testify on the evolution of hybrid warfare and the challenges it poses to military planners.

House Homeland Security -- 10 a.m. -- Visitors Center H210
Cyber threats
The committee will hear from outside experts on U.S. strategy and policies to defense against cyber attacks.

Senate Appropriations -- 10:30 a.m. -- Dirksen 192
Defense budget
Defense Secretary James Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr. will testify before the committee on the fiscal 2017 and fiscal 2018 defense budgets.

House Veterans’ Affairs -- 2 p.m. -- Cannon 334
VA recruiting
VA officials will testify before the committee on recruiting and retention challenges at the department.

House Armed Services -- 2 p.m. -- Rayburn 2118
Air Force readiness
Major Gen. Scott West, director of current operations for the Air Force, and Lt. Gen. Scott Rice, director of the Air National Guard, will testify before the committee on service readiness challenges.  

House Foreign Affairs -- 2 p.m. -- Rayburn 2172
Baltic States
The committee will hear from outside experts on U.S. policy and challenges in regards to the Baltic States.

Senate Foreign Relations -- 2:30 p.m. -- Dirksen 419
Conflict minerals
Human rights advocates will talk to senators about progress in tracking and monitoring conflict minerals.

Senate Armed Services -- 3:30 p.m. -- Russell 222
Army modernization
Army officials will testify before the subcommittee on airland on service modernization efforts.

Thursday

Senate Armed Services -- 9:30 a.m. -- Dirksen G50
Europe
Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, head of U.S. European Command, will testify before the committee on needs and strategy for his programs.

House Armed Services -- 10:30 a.m. -- Rayburn 2118
WMDs
Officials from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and Department of Defense will testify on strategy for countering the threat of weapons of mass destruction.

Senate Armed Services -- 2:30 p.m. -- Russell 232A
Civilian personnel
Former Defense Department personnel officials will talk to senators about civilian personnel reform proposals. 

  


Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at lshane@militarytimes.com.
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