The Political Report: 7/20/20

 In Political Report

Main Story: Congress Returns to a Packed July Calendar

The House and Senate will both be back this week and face a daunting run-up to the August recess. Both chambers are set to go on recess on August 7 and have quite a lot to get done in the interim. The FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is going to be on the floor in both chambers, with considerable work remaining on both bills. However, both are expected to pass their respective chambers, which will allow the House and Senate to then pivot to an additional COVID-19 relief bill. Negotiations on that will need to proceed quickly as the House and the Senate only have 15 legislative days to work out a deal before the August recess.

More broadly, while the House Appropriations Committee has now passed all twelve bills, Senate appropriators have yet to mark up a single bill. The House has ambitious plans to pass all twelve bills through a series of “minibus” legislations. The first of these bundles will likely be voted on either late this week or early next and will cover funding from the Agriculture, State-Foreign Operations, Military Construction-Veterans’ Affairs and Interior-Environment subcommittees. The chamber hopes to move all the funding bills before the August recess but whether they will be able to do so remains to be seen.

On the Senate side, the Committee has not yet marked up any legislation and has no mark-ups scheduled. It is possible for the full committee to move forward without subcommittee mark-ups but so far, no plans have been scheduled. Given the difficulty the Senate faces in securing floor time, it is hard to see a path where any bills would be brought to the floor before August. With little prospect on the Senate moving on appropriation’s bills prior to August, a Continuing Resolution to start FY2021 is basically assured. Congress will only be in session for four weeks prior to the November election (September 8 to October 2). It is almost impossible to imagine a scenario where the White House and Congress will come together on an omnibus appropriations bill in that timeframe, meaning a continuing resolution through the holidays will likely be passed sometime in September.

House Activity

The House is going to debate the FY2021 NDAA (formally “H.R. 6395 – William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021”), as well as an appropriations minibus covering the Agriculture, State-Foreign Operations, Military Construction-Veterans’ Affairs, and Interior-Environment subcommittee bills.

Senate Activity

The Senate hopes to complete debate on its version of the FY2021 NDAA (S.4049).

Congressional Defense Activity

  •  HFAC
    • 7/21 “Consular Affairs and the COVID-19 Crisis: Assessing the State Department’s Response to the Pandemic,” Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Hearing, 2172 Rayburn, 10am
    • 7/23 “The Trump Administration’s FY2021 Foreign Assistance Budget Request,” Full Committee Hearing, 2172 Rayburn, 930am
  • SFRC
    • 7/21 “Nominations,” Full Committee Hearing, SD-106 Dirksen, 10am
    • 7/22 “Advancing Effective U.S. Competition with China: Objectives, Priorities, and Next Steps,” Full Committee Hearing, SR-325 Russell, 2pm
    • 7/23 “Nominations,” Full Committee Hearing, SD-106 Dirksen, 10am
  • SASC
    • No hearings for this week
  •  HASC
    • No hearings for this week
  •  SAC-D
    • No hearings for this week
  •  HAC-D
    • No hearings for this week
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