The Political Report 7/29/20

 In Political Report

Main Story: Defense Bills Progress but COVID-19 Dominates Headlines

Both the House and the Senate have passed their versions of the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and will now pivot towards the appropriations process. In the House, they passed their first “minibus,” a piece of legislation combining four appropriations bills into one for rapid consideration. Of particular relevance here is the Military Construction/Veterans’ Affairs bill. This week the House will bring up a second bill (H.R. 7617), which includes the Defense subcommittee’s bill, as well as a variety of other subcommittees (Commerce/Justice/Science, Energy & Water, Financial Services, Homeland Security, Labor/HHS/Education, and Transportation, Housing & Urban Development). While the Senate Appropriations Committee’s path forward is unclear, at least progress has been made on the NDAA and through House appropriations.

However, on July 24 a potential wrench emerged as, despite having been adopted in both the House and the Senate by veto-proof majorities, serious opposition outside the White House emerged to proposals to rename Army bases currently named after Confederate leaders. While the White House had threatened to veto the bill via tweet, both chambers have adopted amendments to remove the names. Now though, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has announced that he will remove the offending provision from the bill. Given that the amendment was in both versions of the legislation and was adopted by wide, bipartisan margins in both chambers, it is unclear how he will find the support for this. His opposition though may point to challenges in the conference committee negotiations. Next week we will look to provide more information comparing some of the investment differences between the two bills.

Looming over all of this is ongoing work on the next COVID-19 relief package. On Monday, July 27, Senate Republicans and the White House released their version of the bill, allowing negotiations to begin with Congressional Democratic leadership. It is unclear how the $1 trillion GOP proposal and the $3 trillion Democratic proposal will be reconciled but given that enhanced unemployment benefits that helped avoid severe economic damages are expiring there will be pressure for Congress to move quickly. Expect a resolution by the end of next week.

House Activity

The House will consider its second ‘minibus’ of appropriations legislation, as well as legislation expanding childcare access.

Senate Activity

The Senate will approve various nominees while negotiations on COVID-19 relief legislation continues.

Congressional Defense Activity

  •  HFAC
    • 7/29 “Diversity and Diplomacy: Assessing the State Department’s Record of Promoting Diversity and Inclusion,” Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Hearing, 2172 Rayburn, 2pm
    • 7/30 “Update on the COVID-19 Pandemic Response in Africa,” Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations”, 2172 Rayburn, 1pm
  • SFRC
    • 7/29 “Business Meeting,” Full Committee Meeting, SR-325 Russell, 9am
    • 7/30 “Business Meeting,” Full Committee Meeting, SD-106 Dirksen, 830am
    • 7/30 “Review of the FY 2021 State Department Budget Request,” SD-106 Dirksen, 845am
  • SASC
    • 7/28 “Nominations,” Full Committee Hearing, SD-106 Dirksen, 230pm
    • 7/30 “Nominations,” Full Committee Hearing, SD-G50 Dirksen, 930am
  •  HASC
    • 7/29 “An Epidemic of Fear: Sexual Harassment and Retaliation in the Military. Is It a Crisis at Fort Hood,” Subcommittee on Military Personnel Hearing, 2118 Rayburn, 10am
    • 7/30 “Review of the Recommendations of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission,” Subcommittee on Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities Hearing, 2118 Rayburn, 1pm
  •  SAC-D
    • No hearings for this week
  •  HAC-D
    • No hearings for this week
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