Pentagon & Congress

This week in Congress: Defense, VA nominees finally moving ahead

A week after President Donald Trump announced his new nominee to lead the Defense Department, the commander-in-chief’s pick to take over the second highest role in the Department of Veterans Affairs will have his confirmation hearing before the Senate.

James Byrne, who has served as the acting VA deputy secretary since last August, will testify before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee on Wednesday. His wait to formally take over the job he has been doing has been nearly twice as long as that of Patrick Shanahan, who has been acting defense secretary since Jan. 1.

Together, the moves represent Trump filling two significant military and veterans vacancies, an issue that has raised concerns among lawmakers.

Also this week, Defense Department Comptroller David Norquist will again testify before the House Armed Services Committee on the military’s efforts to reform its financial practices and pass an audit, a promised goal of administration officials.

Wednesday, May 15

House Veterans' Affairs — 10 a.m. — H210 Visitors Center
School Closures
VA officials will testify on the effect of mid-semester college closings on student veterans’ long-term education plans.

Senate Foreign Relations — 10:15 a.m. — 419 Dirksen
Nuclear Arms Control
Outside experts will testify on nuclear security issues.

House Foreign Affairs — 2 p.m. — 2172 Rayburn
Outside experts will testify on the current security situation in Libya.

House Veterans' Affairs — 2 p.m. — H210 Visitors Center
VHA Budget
Richard Stone, acting head of the Veterans Health Administration, will testify on the department’s fiscal 2020 budget request.

Senate Veterans' Affairs — 2:30 p.m. — 418 Russell
The committee will consider the nomination of James Byrne to be VA deputy secretary.

Thursday, May 16

House Armed Services — 10 a.m. — 2118 Rayburn
DOD audit
Defense Department Comptroller David Norquist will testify on the military's financial improvement and audit remediation plan.

House Foreign Affairs — 10 a.m. — 2172 Rayburn
U.S.-Africa Policy
State Department officials will testify on U.S. policy towards Africa.

House Armed Services — 2:30 p.m. — 2212 Rayburn
Personnel Management
James Stewart, acting Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, and service officials will testify on recruiting and retention challenges.

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