By Matt Vallone, Director of Research & Analysis
Main Story: Failure of Repeal and Replace Casts Doubt on Broader Trump Agenda
Last week saw the first real attempt at a major legislative initiative under unified Republican control falter and crash to a halt. For those of us expecting significant legislative activity in this new session of Congress, it was not a particularly auspicious start. While the politics of aerospace and defense spending are not the same as the politics of health care, the dynamics at play in the health care legislation could pose significant obstacles to any proposed spending legislation. While we have not yet revised our belief that the Trump administration will succeed in increasing defense spending, should Congress have similar trouble funding the government at the end of April we would likely want to revisit our expectations for the FY 2018 and beyond. Given that the House is only in session for twelve more days before the end of the current CR, we should quickly find out whether Congress will be able to increase defense spending for FY 2017.
For this week, the schedule will almost certainly be less contentious than last week. The Senate will be looking to ratify Montenegro’s membership in NATO while the House will be considering voting on a Senate-passed bill overturning FCC rules on web-browser privacy, while also voting on controversial legislation that would place new requirements on the sourcing of data used by the EPA.
House Activity – As it always does, the House will vote on several suspension bills this week, but it also will consider two most substantive pieces of legislation. First, it will pass legislation adopted by the Senate, overturning an Obama-era FCC rule on web browser privacy. Second, it will pass legislation by Rep. Lamar Smith, setting baseline transparency requirements for any research used by the EPA.
Senate Activity – The Senate will spend the week ratifying Montenegro’s membership in NATO. In addition, the Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a nomination hearing on the Trump administration’s nominee for Secretary of the Air Force, former Representative Heather Wilson.
- 3/28 ‘CLOSED: Department of Defense Worldwide Policy and Strategy and the Fiscal Year 2017 Defense Supplemental Budget Request’, Full Committee Hearing, SVC-217, 230pm
- 3/29 ‘Russian Influence and Unconventional Warfare Operations in the “Grey Zone”: Lessons from Ukraine’, Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, SR-222 Russell, 10am
- 3/29 ‘Health of the Department of Defense Industrial Base and its Role in Providing Readiness to the Warfighter’, Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, SR-232A Russell, 215pm
- 3/29 ‘Air Force Modernization’, Subcommittee on Airland, SR-222 Russell, 330pm
- 3/30 ‘Nomination of the Honorable Heather A. Wilson to be Secretary of the Air Force’, Full Committee Hearing, SD-G50 Dirksen, 930am
- 3/28 ‘Military Assessment of Russian Activities and Security Challenges in Europe’, Full Committee Hearing, 2118 Rayburn, 10am
- 3/28 ‘Naval Strike Fighters – Issues and Concerns’, Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, 2212 Rayburn, 330pm
- 3/29 ‘Military Assessment of the Security Challenges in the Greater Middle East’, Full Committee Hearing, 2118 Rayburn, 10am
- 3/29 ‘Threats to Space Assets and Implications for Homeland Security’, Strategic Forces Subcommittee, HVC 210 Capitol, 2pm
- 3/29 ‘Military Pilot Shortage’, Military Personnel Subcommittee, 2118 Rayburn, 2pm
- 3/30 ‘The Current State of U.S. Transportation Command’, Readiness Subcommittee, 2118 Rayburn, 9am
- 3/30 ‘Consequences and Context for Russia’ Violations of the INF Treaty’, Strategic Forces Subcommittee, 2172 Rayburn, 1030am
- 3/28 ‘CLOSED: US Central Command Hearing’, H-140, 1045am
- 3/29 ‘CLOSED: US European Command Hearing’, H-140, 10am
- SAC-D – 3/29 ‘Hearing to review the funding of the Defense Health Program and Military Medicine’, 192 Dirksen, 1030am
Government Activity Round-Up
Still not much new at CBO, so we’ll just re-link the debt limit piece from March 7th. On the 16th, Treasury reached the statutory debt limit and began to use ‘extraordinary measures’ to avoid default. The report delves into what this entails and what might happen should the debt ceiling fail to be lifted.
The most relevant report from GAO this week looks at the KC-46 tanker program. The conclusion is that the program cost has decreased, but that the project remains behind schedule. The full summary reads: “The Air Force’s KC-46 modernization program—initiated to replace a third of its aging aerial refueling fleet—is meeting its cost and performance targets. With fewer engineering changes than expected, the program’s estimated total acquisition cost has decreased about $7.3 billion, or 14 percent, since its initial estimate .
However, the project remains behind schedule.
Boeing—the prime contractor—plans to deliver the first 18 fully capable aircraft to the Air Force by October 2018, 14 months later than initially planned. Potential delays in completing flight tests may further delay the delivery of aircraft.” The full report is available here.
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