The Year’s First Busy Week: Both Chambers in Session, First Votes for 2016, and Budget Preview Week
Matt Vallone, Senior Analysis Manager
After several abbreviated or ceremonial weeks, both the House and the Senate are in town this week as serious legislative business starts to get underway. At the same time, the Iowa caucuses signal the official beginning of the 2016 election season. Lastly, on Tuesday, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter will preview the FY 2017 budget at the Economic Club. Based on initial reports, expect to see a lot of pushback from the services and Congress as the budget process unfolds.
After taking the week off, the House of Representatives is back Tuesday with a busy floor schedule featuring bills on sanctions on Iran, an attempt at overriding the president’s veto of legislation repealing the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), and a pair of bills out of the Financial Services committee. On the Senate side, lawmakers hope to wrap up a bipartisan energy bill sponsored by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) & Maria Cantwell (D-WA).
However, as interesting as those votes may be, the main action this week will occur in Iowa, where polls have former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump narrowly ahead going into the first voting day of the 2016 primary election. However, given the nature of the caucuses voting (typically less than half of registered voters attend), there remains a lot of uncertainty around how the day will go. Given the importance of Iowa for fundraising and free media attention, a lot of the conventional wisdom (betting markets currently have Trump and Clinton favored to win) could look very different in 24 hours.
Lastly, on Tuesday Secretary of Defense Ash Carter will preview the FY 2017 Presidential Budget Request (due out on the 9th) during a speech before the Economic Club. Based on already leaked documentation around the controversial Littoral Combat Ship program and reports of significant friction between the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the services, expect some interesting leaks and quotes to follow in response. We don’t have any preview on what he’ll say, but will be watching and listening in anticipation of the budget arriving, which is our favorite time of year.
Congressional Defense Activity
2/2 Implementation of the Decision to Open All Ground combat Units to Women, Full Committee Hearing
2/3 An Independent Perspective of U.S. Defense Policy in the Asia-Pacific Region, Full Committee Hearing
2/3 (Closed Hearing) Counterterrorism Strategy: Understanding ISIL, Subcommittee on Emerging Threats Hearing
2/4 Situation in Afghanistan, Full Committee Hearing
2/2 Afghanistan in 2016: The Evolving Security Situation and U.S. Policy, Strategy and Posture, Full Committee Hearing
2/3 Acquisition Reform: Starting Programs Well, Full Committee Hearing
2/3 Military Treatment Facilities, Full Committee Hearing
2/3 Outside Views on Biodefense for the Department of Defense, Full Committee Hearing
2/4 Naval Strike Fighters: Issues and Concerns, Full Committee Hearing
Government Activity Round-up
All sort of interesting reports are available over at GAO, including a just released look at energy conservation efforts in infrastructure by DoD and potential issues around the extension of services in Army contracting.
As we get ready for the FY 2017 budget to drop next Tuesday, it might be worth reviewing the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the “Long-Term implications of the 2016 Future Years Defense Program”.
Other DC Activity
Several big names in defense policy (Robert Kagan, Michael O’Hanlon, & Mackenzie Eaglen) will be meeting at Brookings this morning to discuss defense strategy for the next administration. Should make for an interesting discussion.
P.S. — Check out our Webinar on February 12th! “An Analysis of the FY2017 President’s Budget Request and Its Implications for the Defense Industry” Register Now