Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin this week will make his first appearance before Congress to discuss the White House’s fiscal 2024 budget request, which includes a record $842 billion for military operations.

Austin’s appearance before the House Appropriations Committee is likely to be a tense one. Thursday won’t be the first time the defense secretary has faced direct criticism from Republican lawmakers in his two-plus years on the job, but it will be the first time he faces that questioning with Republicans in the majority.

Along with the budget request, Austin is expected to field questions about military recruiting challenges, U.S. support of Ukraine and Defense Department initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion, a topic that has been a specific target of conservatives. House Armed Services Committee members have a separate hearing on the topic later the same day.

Austin won’t be the only Cabinet official on Capitol Hill this week to discuss next year’s budget plans. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to appear before several committees to talk about his department priorities, while VA Secretary Denis McDonough is expected to testify before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Thursday on veteran programming needs.

Wednesday, March 22

Senate Armed Services — 9:30 a.m. — 106 Dirksen
Recruiting Challenges
Service officials will testify on progress in meeting fiscal 2023 recruiting goals and long-term recruiting challenges.

Senate Appropriations — 10 a.m. — 138 Dirksen
State Department Budget
State Department officials will testify on the fiscal 2024 budget request.

Senate Judiciary — 2:30 p.m. — 226 Dirksen
U.S. Refugee Admissions
Administration officials will testify on current U.S. policies regarding refugee admissions.

Senate Armed Services — 2:30 p.m. — 222 Russell
DOD Small Business Base
Farooq Mitha, director of the Defense Department’s Office of Small Business Programs, and service officials will testify on challenges for the military’s industrial base.

Senate Foreign Relations— 2:30 p.m. — 419 Dirksen
State Department Budget
Secretary of State Antony Blinken will testify on current department operations and the fiscal 2024 budget request.

Senate Veterans' Affairs — 3 p.m. — 418 Russell
VA Recruitment and Retention
Department officials will testify on staff recruiting and retention efforts.

Thursday, March 23

Senate Armed Services — 9:30 a.m. — G-50 Dirksen
Northern/Southern Command
Gen. Glen VanHerckhead of U.S. Northern Command, Gen. Laura Richardson, head of U.S. Southern Command, will testify on current operations and the fiscal 2024 budget request.

House Veterans' Affairs — 10 a.m. — 390 Cannon
VA Budget
Department officials will testify on the fiscal 2024 budget request.

House Appropriations — 10 a.m. — 2359 Rayburn
Defense Budget
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley will testify on the fiscal 2024 budget request.

House Armed Services — 10 a.m. — 2118 Rayburn
Africa and Central Command
Gen. Michael Kurilla, head of U.S. Central Command, and Gen. Michael Langley, head of U.S. Africa Command, will testify on current operations and the fiscal 2024 budget request.

House Foreign Affairs — 10 a.m. — Visitors Center H210
State Department Budget
Secretary of State Antony Blinken will testify on current department operations and the fiscal 2024 budget request.

House Appropriations — 2 p.m. — 2359 Rayburn
State Department Budget
Secretary of State Antony Blinken will testify on current department operations and the fiscal 2024 budget request.

House Appropriations — 2 p.m. — 2358-C Rayburn
Army Family Housing
Army officials will testify on current family housing challenges and future plans for construction.

House Foreign Affairs — 2 p.m. — Visitors Center H210
U.S.-Pacific Engagement
State Department officials will testify on U.S. engagement with Pacific nations and Chinese island acquisition in the region.

House Armed Services — 3 p.m. — 2118 Rayburn
Diversity-Equity-Inclusion Programs
Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel Gilbert Cisneros Jr. and service officials will testify on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies and training within the military.

House Armed Services — 3:30 p.m. — 2212 Rayburn
Military Information Technologies
Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition William LaPlante will testify on cyber and information technology plans in the fiscal 2024 budget request.

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.

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