Political Report: 3/5/2019

 In Weekly Wire

Main Story: Congress Considers National Emergency, Next Week’s Skinny Budget, and Carrier Cuts

The Senate is expected to vote this week on a resolution that would terminate the President’s declaration of a national emergency concerning the border with Mexico. The resolution passed the House last Tuesday, February 26th. All Democrats and thirteen Republicans voted against the administration’s initiative. The Senate appears to have enough Republican support to pass the resolution of disapproval, but not enough to override a presidential veto.

As always, this blog’s focus is on the defense budget and next week will be our Christmas (or something). On Tuesday, March 12th, the Department of Defense will release its ‘skinny’ budget for FY2020, providing information on the Department of Defense’s plans for the upcoming fiscal year and its full implementation of the most recent National Defense Strategy (NDS). Avascent will provide data and analysis of the most recent budget request. If you or your team is interested in receiving a briefing from Avascent on the budget request and where the Pentagon is going under the new NDS, please contact Matt Vallone at mvallone@avascent.com.

According to industry reports, the Department of Defense plans to delay the midlife refueling of the aircraft carrier USS Harry Truman. The move would effectively result in its retirement in the mid-2020s, cutting the country’s carrier fleet from 11 to 10 vessels. Pentagon leadership cited concerns about the cost and survivability of carriers in a conflict with China and Russia, while the Navy has argued that the platforms remain relevant for power projection.

The decision to retire the carrier will face strong, perhaps insurmountable, opposition on Capitol Hill. Reps. Joe Courtney and Rob Wittman, chair and ranking member of the HASC seapower subcommittee, have already stated that they will block any moves that threaten the carrier program. Unless the Pentagon can deliver an alternative proposal, its plans to sink the Truman may be dead in the water.

House Activity

The House is poised to pass H.R. 1, “For The People Act,” a imitative that includes Democratic priorities on voting rights, money in politics, and Congressional ethics. It will also vote on over a half-dozen bills under suspended rules, including the Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act and the Burn Pit Registry Enhancement Act.

Senate Activity

Senate news is likely to be dominated by the resolution that would end the President’s declared national emergency on the southern border. While there are likely enough Republican votes to pass the resolution of disapproval, it will likely not have the 67 votes needed to override a presidential veto.

Congressional Defense Activity

  • HPSCI
    • 3/7 ‘Adoption of the Committee’s Views and Estimates Letter’, HVC-304, 9am
  • SSCI
    • 3/5 “CLOSED: Briefing on Intelligence Matters’, SH-219, 2:30pm
  • HFAC
    • 3/6 ‘The Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen: Addressing Current Political and Humanitarian Challenges’, Full Committee, 2172 Rayburn, 2pm
    • 3/7, ‘The Status of American Hostages in Iran’, Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and International Terrorism, 2172 Rayburn, 130pm
  • SFRC
    • 3/4 ‘CLOSED/TS/SCI: Briefing Status of the Global Magnitsky Investigation Related to the Khashoggi Murder’, Full Committee, SVC-217, 5pm
    • 3/5 ‘CLOSED/TS/SCI: Briefing Post-Hanoi: The Status of the North Korea Denuclearization Effort, Full Committee, SVC-217, 3pm
    • 3/6 ‘Nominations: Ambassadorships to Saudi Arabaia & Iraq’, Full Committee, SD-419, 10am
    • 3/7 ‘U.S.-Venezuela Relations and the Path to a Democratic Transition’, Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issues, SD-419, 10am
  •  SASC
    • 3/5 ‘United States European Command and United States Transportation Command’, Full Committee Hearing, SD-G50 Dirksen, 930am
    • 3/5 ‘CLOSED: United States European Command and United States Transportation Command’, Full Committee Hearing, SR-222 Russell, 230pm
    • 3/6 ‘Military Services’ Prevention of and Response to Sexual Assault’, Full Committee Hearing, SR-222 Russell, 230pm
    • 3/7 ‘Chain of Command’s Accountability to Provide Safe Military Housing and Other Building Infrastructure to Servicemembers and Their Families’, Full Committee Hearing, SH-216 Hart, 930am
  • HASC
    • 3/6 ‘Outside Perspectives on Nuclear Deterrence Policy and Posture’, Full Committee, 2118 Rayburn, 10am
    • 3/7 ‘U.S. Transportation Command and Maritime Administration: State of the Mobility Enterprise’, Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces and Subcommittee on Readiness Joint Hearing, 2118 Rayburn, 2pm
    • 3/7 ‘National Security Challenges and U.S. Military Activities in the Greater Middle East and Africa’, Full Committee, 2118 Rayburn, 10am
  • SAC-D
    • No hearings this week
  • HAC-D
    • 3/6 ‘CLOSED: U.S. Central Command’, Subcommittee on Defense, H-140 Capitol, 3pm
    • 3/7 ‘CLOSED: U.S. European Command’, Subcommittee on Defense, H-140 Capitol, 3pm
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