The Political Report 9/22/20

 In Political Report

Main Story: Death of Justice Ginsburg Likely Ends Stimulus Negotiations Prior to the Election

On Friday, September 18, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away. We extend our condolences to her family and friends and recognize the many people impacted by her life and achievements. We won’t speculate on the outcome of the upcoming fight over her replacement or its political implications – it is far too soon to make any reasonable claims about the impact this will have on the Presidential or Senatorial races. In defense terms, the direct connection between the upcoming nomination fight to replace her and defense spending should be minimal, but it has significant implications for the remainder of the year.

First, it is almost impossible to see major stimulus legislation moving through Congress given the heightened tensions that will accompany the nomination fight. This will put the Department of Defense (DoD) on the hook for the billions of dollars spent by defense firms in response to COVID-19. One interesting piece to follow will be if the upcoming continuing resolution (CR) contains reprogramming to allow DoD to reimburse some of these expenditures from other accounts or if it is punted until final appropriations.

Second, while early reports indicate that House Democrats will not attempt to use a government shutdown as leverage in this fight, it’s difficult to believe that animosity over this dispute might not bleed into ongoing negotiations on a continuing resolution. Currently, Democrats are hoping to vote on a CR this week, but negotiations continue over both the length of the CR and whether to replenish funds for the Trump administration’s farmer relief efforts. Again, it’s doubtful that this will lead to a shutdown, but until you get to 218 and 51 in the House and Senate respectively, it’s hard to guarantee that it won’t happen.

Lastly, while it’s too early to meaningfully understand what type of impact this nomination will have on the upcoming elections, it is hard to imagine that it will not have some significant effect. Polling will almost certainly begin to reflect some of these decisions in the coming weeks and this could further drive polarization and turnout in a race that was already shaping up to be exceedingly contentious. Given the potential impacts of a Biden administration or even unified control by Democrats on defense spending, this is certainly worth watching as the election fight draws to a close.

House Activity

The House hopes to pass a continuing resolution funding the government through the November elections.

Senate Activity

The Senate will vote on various nominations this week. Should there be an agreement on a funding bill, it is likely it would slip into next week though possible it could pass by the end of the week.

Congressional Defense Activity

  •  HFAC
    • 9/22 “Stemming a Receding Tide: Human Rights and Democratic Values in Asia,” Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation Hearing, 2172 Rayburn, 10am
    • 9/22 “Diversity and Diplomacy: Assessing the State Department’s Record in Promoting Diversity and Inclusion,” Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Hearing, Webex, 2pm
    • 9/23 “Green Recovery Plans for the COVID-19 Crisis,” Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy and the Environment Hearing, Webex, 10am
  • SFRC
    • 9/22 “Business Meeting,” Full Committee Meeting, SD-106 Dirksen, 930am
    • 9/22 “Nomination,” Full Committee Hearing, SD-106 Dirksen, 1030am
    • 9/24 “U.S. Policy in a Changing Middle East,” Full Committee Hearing, SD-G50 Dirksen, 9am
  • SASC
    • 9/23 “Navy and Marine Corps Readiness,” Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support Hearing, SD-562 Dirksen, 915am
    • 9/23 “CLOSED: Briefing on Department of Defense Cyber Operations in Support of Efforts to Protect the Integrity of U.S. National Elections from Malign Actors,” Full Committee Hearing, SVC-217 The Capitol Visitor Center, 230pm
  •  HASC
    • 9/22 “Modernization of the Conventional Ammunition Production Industrial Base,” Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces Hearing, 2118 Rayburn, 1pm
    • 9/23 “The Role of Allies and Partners in U.S. Military Strategy and Operations,” Full Committee Hearing, Capitol Visitor Center, 12pm
  •  SAC-D
    • No hearings for this week
  •  HAC-D
    • No hearings for this week
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