Lawmakers are hoping to finish work this week on two separate major defense initiatives before heading home for the Fourth of July recess and start their summer outreach back home.
In the Senate, leaders have planned a full chamber vote on the annual defense authorization bill before Friday. The $750 billion measure boasts more than 550 amendments, but how many — if any — will get floor votes remains unsettled.
In the House, lawmakers there have been voting for several days on amendments to a nearly $400 billion spending package which includes the fiscal 2020 budget for Veterans Affairs programs and military construction projects. Last week, the House advanced a broader $733 billion defense spending plan, along party lines.
When lawmakers return from the early July break, they’ll have a little less than four weeks before the extended August recess, putting a time crunch on plans to get defense legislation advanced to at least inter-chamber conference negotiations.
All the budget work needs to be completed by Oct. 1 — just a few weeks after their August return — or lawmakers risk a partial government shutdown.
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.