Copies of the White House's fiscal 2021 budget proposal sit on display on Capitol Hill on Feb. 10, 2020. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
In what could be the final week of legislative work before the November elections, lawmakers are expected to pass a budget extension in coming days to prevent a partial government shutdown and lock in defense spending levels for months to come.
Senate and House leaders are still debating whether to extend federal spending at fiscal 2020 levels until this December or February 2021. Defense officials and industry leaders have said they would prefer a shorter continuing resolution, because they cannot start new programs or increase spending on existing priorities under the restrictions from previous fiscal year funding.
As Congress readies a stopgap spending measure this week, the defense industry is girding for a long-term funding patch that could delay both new procurement programs and needed fiscal certainty into next year.
But House Democratic leaders have argued that pushing the final funding decisions until next February makes more sense, given the looming presidential election and changes in the White House staffing regardless which party wins.
Amid that discussion, several congressional committees will hold hearings on defense and veterans issues this week in anticipation of the coming break. The Coast Guard commandant is scheduled to testify before senators on Tuesday, while the Navy secretary and top Marine Corps officials are scheduled to appear on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.
Tuesday, Sept. 22
House Foreign Affairs — 10 a.m. — 2172 Rayburn Asia
Outside experts will testify on human rights issues in Asian countries.
Senate Foreign Relations — 10:30 a.m. — 106 Dirksen Nominations
The committee will consider several nominations, including William Todd to be U.S. ambassador to Pakistan.
House Oversight and Reform — 11 a.m. — 2154 Rayburn Afghanistan
The committee will continue its examination of the administration’s national security strategy in Afghanistan.
House Armed Services — 1 p.m. — 2118 Rayburn Ammunition Production
Army officials will testify on modernization of the conventional ammunition production industrial base.
House Foreign Affairs — 2 p.m. — 2172 Rayburn State Department Diversity
State Department officials will testify on efforts to promote diversity among the ranks of department employees.
Senate Commerce — 2:30 p.m. — 253 Russell Coast Guard Arctic Operations
Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Charles Ray will testify on his services operations in the Arctic and needs to continue the work.
Wednesday, Sept. 23
Senate Armed Services — 9:15 a.m. — 562 Dirksen Navy/Marine Corps Readiness
Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. William Lescher, and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger will testify on force readiness issues.
Senate Homeland Security — 10 a.m. — 342 Dirksen Nominations
The committee will consider the nomination of Chad Wolf to be secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
House Veterans' Affairs — 10 a.m. — online hearing Airborne Hazards
The committee will discuss veteran toxic exposure issues, with a focus on past military operations in southwest Asia.
House Armed Services — 12 p.m. — online hearing U.S. Allies
Outside experts will testify on the importance of international allies.
Thursday, Sept. 24
Senate Foreign Relations — 9 a.m. — G-50 Dirksen U.S. Policy in the Middle East
State Department officials will testify on changes to U.S. national security policy in the Middle East.
Senate Homeland Security — 10 a.m. — 342 Dirksen National security threats
FBI Director Christopher Wray and other intelligence experts will testify on current threats facing the U.S. homeland.
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.
The changed security environment in Europe will yield increased demand from European allies for integrated missile defenses, early warning systems, air-to-air missiles and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms, a senior U.S. defense official said Thursday.