By Matt Vallone, Director of Research & Analysis
Main Story: Tax Reform and Mueller Dominate the News but Negotiations Are Underway on the FY 2018 NDAA
There’s a lot going on in Washington right now but very little of it is directly related to our normal focus of the defense budget and appropriations process. On Monday, special counsel Robert Mueller released indictments on multiple members of the Trump campaign, most prominently former campaign manager Paul Manafort and former foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos. This week also will feature the release of House Republicans’ proposed tax plan on Wednesday. Lastly, both Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis will be on the Hill to talk about a potential new Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). While all these actions may have long-term impacts on defense spending, none are directly relevant to figuring out what will happen with FY 2018 appropriations.
In terms of defense activity, the hearing on a new AUMF will be worth watching (info here), but last week saw the start of negotiations on the FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). While this version of the bill may not line up with appropriations in terms of the dollar values involved, it will still be enormously influential in setting policy decisions and priorities for the Department of Defense, as well as likely laying out a guideline for program-level activity. Keep an eye on this space as things develop.
House Activity – The House will vote on a variety of suspension bills early in the week before dealing with two more controversial bills regarding how the government responds to forest fires and repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), an organization tasked with monitoring growth in Medicare/Medicaid spending and then proposing cuts should growth exceed certain targets. This was reported as the ‘death panel’ in the Affordable Care Act back in 2009-2010.
Senate Activity – The Senate is set to work through a number of judicial nominations as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell looks to refute conservatives’ criticism that he has not confirmed enough judges.
- SASC – 11/2 Nomination Hearing, Full Committee Hearing, SD-G50 Dirksen, 930am
- HASC – No hearings this week
- HAC-D – No hearings this week
- SAC-D – No hearings this week
Washington Activity Round-Up
Nothing new at CBO this week. Avascent has released a new data story, providing information on “The Future of Small Launchers” in the space market. Take a look.
GAO has a couple of interesting reports out. The first looks at sustainment challenges facing the F-35 program. GAO notes that the services have had trouble supporting the existing operational aircraft for a variety of reasons (limited repair capacity, shortage of spare parts, issues with the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS)) and that planned ramp-ups in production should account for the need to improve sustainment. Full report here. The second report is less interesting, but looks at the need to improve readiness in DoD’s Global Response Force. GAO looks at how the current system prioritizes using available GRF units in response to commander requests may impact a potential need for rapid joint deployment of a task force. Nothing industry-specific, but an interesting discussion of current and potential future DoD priorities.
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