Members of multiple veterans organizations crowd a Senate hearing room during the groups' annual testimony before Congress on March 11, 2020. (Leo Shane III/Staff)
March is typically the time when scores of veterans advocates flood Capitol Hill hearing rooms in their annual advocacy meetings with members of Congress. This year, due to the ongoing pandemic, all of that work is going virtual.
Starting on Wednesday, the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees will receive updates from veterans service organizations for the first time in a fully virtual setting. Gone are the packed hearing rooms full of members sporting attire with group logos and binders full of talking points. Instead, all of the groups will testify over the internet, safely socially distanced.
Lawmakers will still have a full slate of testimony to comb through, however.
Fourteen different groups are set to outline their policy goals and priorities this week, including Disabled American Veterans, the American Legion, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Vietnam Veterans of America and Student Veterans of America. Six more are scheduled to meet in a similar virtual setting on March 18.
Tuesday, March 2
Senate Armed Services — 9:30 a.m. — G-50 Dirksen Global security challenges
Outside experts will testify on global security challenges and strategies to respond to them.
House Appropriations — 10:30 a.m. — online hearing Military service academies
The heads of the three service academies will testify on challenges facing their institutions.
House Foreign Affairs — 11 a.m. — online hearing Africa
Outside experts will testify on election freedom in African countries.
Wednesday, March 3
House Foreign Affairs — 10 a.m. — online hearing Venezuela
Outside experts will testify on security challenges presented by instability in Venezuela.
House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs — 10 a.m. — online hearing. Veterans groups
Officials from Disabled American Veterans, Student Veterans of America and other veterans advocacy groups will present their priorities to lawmakers during the joint hearing.
Thursday, March 4
Senate Armed Services — 9:30 a.m. — 106 Dirksen Nomination
The committee will consider the nomination of Colin Kahl to be Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.
House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs — 10 a.m. — online hearing Veterans groups
Officials from the American Legion, Paralyzed Veterans of America and other veterans advocacy groups will present their priorities to lawmakers during the joint hearing.
Friday, March 5
House Appropriations — 10:30 a.m. — online hearing VA infrastructure
VA officials will testify on the status of VA facilities and plans for future construction and consolidation.
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.