This week’s short congressional schedule will feature one of the longest hearings of the year: the annual mark-up of the defense authorization bill by the House Armed Services Committee.
The massive military budget policy measure, which has passed through Congress for the last 59 consecutive years, already includes a 3 percent pay raise for troops in 2021, a $1 billion coronavirus response account for defense planners, and hundreds of other provisions which will impact the department for years to come.
Unlike their Senate counterparts, however, the House committee typically hosts a 12-hour-plus open mark-up session to finalize the measure before a full chamber vote. The hours of debate are expected to touch on contentious issues like renaming military bases, abortion at overseas military facilities, and southern border wall deployments.
The full Senate is expected to vote on their version of the authorization bill in the next few weeks, with the House to follow before the start of August. Lawmakers are hopeful a final negotiated draft can be sent to the White House later this fall.
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.