The Political Report 6/23/20

 In Weekly Wire

Main Story: Both Chambers in Session Again, but Questions Remain

It has been seven weeks since both the House and the Senate were in session, as fears over COVID-19 have limited the House to remote sessions and intermittent action using proxy voting. However, as Washington DC gradually opens up (moving to Phase 2 of its reopening on Monday, June 22) both chambers have decided to return. In the interim, external events and the prolonged delay have conspired to wreak havoc with the normal Congressional schedule; however, the state of play for defense spending legislation is fairly straightforward and less dire than that of other departments.

Amazingly, amidst all of this, both the House and Senate Armed Services Committee have continued to work to try to keep the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on track. Earlier this month, SASC passed its version of the NDAA with a bipartisan vote of 25-2. This week HASC will take its turn, as it hopes to pass its version of the legislation prior to the July 4 recess. That would set up the possibility of having both bills passed through their respective chambers prior to the August recess and keep them on track for passage this year (either in September or, more likely, in a lame duck session following the November elections). While there will undoubtedly be hold-ups and delays, both committees completing their mark-ups prior to the end of June under these conditions has to be viewed as an impressive legislative accomplishment.

On the appropriations front, things are less encouraging. In the House, there are plans to try to work through all twelve bills before the end of July. This is largely due to the chamber’s ability to pass legislation by a simple majority vote. In the Senate, where bills must get 60 votes to avoid a filibuster, the path forward is much less clear. While there should be less debate over the DoD and MilCon subcommittee bills, it is highly likely that they will get caught up in disputes over non-defense spending. This is before one even starts to consider how controversies over Confederate monuments, police reform, and spending on the southern border wall could snarl up existing plans. It remains highly likely that the conclusion to the FY21 appropriations process will wait until December or early 2021, depending on the results of the election.

House Activity

The House is expected to take up a Democratic proposal for police reform.

Senate Activity

The Senate is hoping to pass a proposal for police reform

Congressional Defense Activity

  •  HFAC
    • No hearings for this week
  • SFRC
    • No hearings for this week
  • SASC
    • No hearings for this week
  •  HASC
    • 6/22 “Subcommittee on Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities Markup of H.R. 6395 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021,” Subcommittee on Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities Markup, 2118 Rayburn, 11am
    • 6/22 “Subcommittee on Strategic Forces Markup of H.R. 6395 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021,” Subcommittee on Strategic Forces Markup, 2118 Rayburn, 1pm
    • 6/23 “Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces Markup of H.R. 6395 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021,” Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces Markup, 2118 Rayburn, 11am
    • 6/23 “Subcommittee on Military Personnel Markup of H.R. 6395 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021,” Subcommittee on Military Personnel Markup, 2118 Rayburn, 1pm
    • 6/23 “Subcommittee on Readiness Markup of H.R. 6395 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021,” Subcommittee on Readiness Markup, 2118 Rayburn, 3pm
    • 6/23 “Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces Markup of H.R. 6395 – National Defense Authorization act for Fiscal Year 2021,” Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces Markup, 2118 Rayburn, 430pm
  •  SAC-D
    • No hearings for this week
  •  HAC-D
    • 6/23 “Member Day Testimony for FY21 Appropriations,” Committee on Appropriations, Webex Hearing, 11am
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