By Matt Vallone, Senior Analysis Manager
Main Story: Presidential Debate Kicks off a Busy Week in Washington
Tonight marks the beginning of the end of the 2016 campaign cycle, as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will face off against billionaire Donald Trump in the first of three presidential debates. At the same time, Congress remains deadlocked over how to fund the government beyond the end of the fiscal new year on Friday. Plus, this week we may witness the first (and possibly the last) successful override of a veto by President Obama. While we’re always primarily interested in budget issues here at Avascent Analytics, it will be hard not to focus on what may be the most highly-watched presidential debate ever.
The debate will feature two very different participants. Senator Clinton has been involved in the public arena in various roles for 20+ years. She has campaigned as first lady, as Senator, and as a presidential aspirant. She is known for having a good grasp of policy issues and tends to stay tightly on message. In contrast, the 2016 race is Mr. Trump’s first foray into electoral politics. In earlier debates he appeared more comfortable with the verbal jousting and theatrical elements of these exchanges while putting less emphasis on policy. This has led to some memorable put-downs of opponents, but has also given the impression that he may not fully understand the nuances of various policy questions. The impact of the debate, according to most political scientists, is likely to be minimal, but in a campaign year that has so far vexed pundits and models alike, anything can happen.
Source: NY Times Upshot
The race remains tight and the outlook of a Democratic senate has declined considerably. For those hoping for a resolution to the constant budget impasses of recent years, the most likely path is clearly a Trump presidency with unified Republican control of Congress. A Clinton presidency would almost certainly continue an ongoing dispute with Congress over levels of spending.
Beyond the election, Congress has a busy week as it tries, yet again, to fund the government before heading out on the campaign trail. Last week saw the end of negotiations in the Senate, as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) moved forward with a clean continuing resolution that would fund the government through December. However, the fate of the bill is unclear as Democrats object to the exclusion of emergency funds to assist Flint, Michigan in recovering from a contaminated water supply and various Republicans have voiced objections over other provisions. A vote on Tuesday will determine if the Senate moves forward with this bill. In the House, Republican leadership has made some statements regarding the Senate negotiations, but seem willing to largely accept what the Senate passes. With the fiscal year coming to a close at midnight on Friday, no one wants to be responsible for a shutdown in the election year.
In addition to working on funding legislation, Congress is likely to override the White House’s veto of legislation allowing the families of 9/11 victims to sue the government of Saudi Arabia. The legislation, which passed by voice vote in both the House and the Senate, has broad bipartisan support, but is opposed by the White House and leadership of HASC and SASC as it will have a significant negative effect on relations with Saudi Arabia (as well as putting U.S. troops and diplomats in legal jeopardy when serving abroad).
- SASC – No hearing scheduled
- 9/27 National Security Space: 21st Century Challenges, 20th Century Organization, 2118 Rayburn, 330pm
- 9/28 Department of Defense Laboratories: Innovation through Science and Engineering in Support of Military Operations, 2212 Rayburn, 2pm
- HAC-D – No hearing scheduled
- SAC-D – No hearing scheduled
Government Activity Round-Up
Nothing new at CBO this week. GAO has released two reports on critical issues facing the defense budget: the nuclear triad and defense health care reform. In the public version of a classified report, GAO assesses DoD’s decision to maintain all three legs of the nuclear triad. In regards to health care, GAO has identified some significant shortcomings in DoD’s “Report on Military Health System Modernization”. Specifically GAO notes that the study did not look at known issues within current workforce models used by the services, that it did not fully grapple with the requirements needed to maintain the skills of medical providers, and established goals for moving health care from DoD’s purchased care network into its internal system of hospitals but did not lay out a strategy for achieving this. Other issues were raised bringing GAO to question the Department’s proposed cost savings. Full report here.
Other DC/Defense Activity
As always we encourage you to listen to our new podcast, ‘Avascent on the Record’. Our most recent episode features David Belcher discussing ‘The Future of On-Orbit Satellite Servicing’. Last week we also released an interview conducted by Chris Meissner with Dr. Linton Wells on “The Intersection of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, & Cybersecurity.”
Beyond Monday’s must-watch debate, it’s a pretty quiet week in town (I’m assuming most orgs figured Congress would have fled by now). Monday morning, the New America Foundation held an event on Cybersecurity in North America and on Thursday the Atlantic Council will feature a session with former Secretary General of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen on ‘America’s Role in the World’. Beyond that, the new National Museum of African American History & Culture has gotten great reviews.
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