WASHINGTON — While the president visits Capitol Hill to deliver his delayed State of the Union address this week, the defense lawmakers will begin their work on the annual military authorization bill.

Most of that planning will be pushed back until after the formal release of President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2020 budget proposal, expected later this month. But this week, Senate Armed Services Committee member will start the process of putting together the massive policy bill by hearing testimony from leaders at Central Command, Africa Command and Southern Command.

House Armed Services Committee members will review Pentagon counterterrorism strategy on Wednesday, with an eye towards similar military topics in coming weeks.

Last year, the annual defense authorization bill was finalized in August, months ahead of the typical schedule for the legislation. Lawmakers are pessimistic about meeting that same timeline this year, given divided party control of the two chambers and significant philosophical differences between the two committee’s leadership.

Tuesday, Feb. 5

Senate Armed Services — 9:30 a.m. — 216 Hart
Central Command
Gen. Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, testifies before the committee on challenges facing his command and national security.

Senate Appropriations — 10:30 a.m. — Location TBD
VA electronic health records
The subcommittee on Veterans Affairs will hear from VA officials on progress with efforts to upgrade the department’s electronic health records system.

Wednesday, Feb. 6

Senate Armed Services — 10 a.m. — 216 Hart
Worldwide threats
Director Of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley Jr. will testify before the committee on current national security threats.

House Armed Services — 10 a.m. — 2118 Rayburn
Pentagon officials will testify before the committee on the Defense Department’s counterterrorism strategy and looming challenges.

Senate Armed Services — 2:30 p.m. — Visitor Center S217
Closed hearing
The committee will hear from Army officials on readiness concerns in a closed session.

Thursday, Feb. 7

House Appropriations — 10 a.m. — H-140 Capitol
Military quality of life
The subcommittee on military construction will hear from Pentagon officials on military quality of life issues.

Senate Armed Services — 10:15 a.m. — G-50 Dirksen
Africa Command and Southern Command
The head of both commands will testify before the committee on threats and challenges for their missions.

Senate Foreign Relations — 2 p.m. — S-116 Capitol
Organizational meeting
The committee will hold its first session of the year to approve membership and rules.

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.

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