The Political Report 6/29/20

 In Weekly Wire

Main Story: FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is Set to Progress in Both Chambers

This week, the FY2021 NDAA will move closer to passage. In the House, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) is expected to pass its version of the legislation in a one-day mark-up on Wednesday, July 1. In the Senate, the chamber will be debating the Senate Armed Services Committee’s (SASC) version of the NDAA on the floor. While it is likely the legislation will pass the Senate in a bipartisan vote, there are dozens of amendments to work through so it may easily stretch beyond the July 4 recess though the disclosure over the weekend of Russian bounties being paid to Taliban militants may create additional disruptions in moving towards passage.

While progress on both bills is to be expected, its worth spending some time reviewing what we know of the legislation so far. Avascent’s analysis of the SASC NDAA highlights how the limited topline growth poses obstacles for Congress’ general preference of increasing spending on active procurement activity. Traditionally this involves increasing the overall investment spending level relative to the President’s Budget Request. However, in the SASC NDAA this increase is vanishingly small. Spending on investment accounts increases by 0.1 percent from $245.7 billion to $246 billion. Procurement spending inches up by 0.3 percent while RDT&E spending declines 0.1 percent.

Digging deeper, it is easy to see that SASC has prioritized programs associated with tangible platforms in its plus-ups. Aircraft and Space Systems see significant increases while spending on non-platform items (‘Other’ below) declines significantly. Ship Systems increases, but only by 0.8 percent. This highlights one potential area of disagreement with HASC, where more is being done to boost shipbuilding, particularly in restoring a second Virginia-class submarine.

House Activity

The House is expected to pass an expansion of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) as well as legislation authorizing $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending. Both pieces of legislation are expected to pass along a roughly party line vote.

Senate Activity

The Senate will work through amendments on the FY2021 NDAA. It is unclear if the legislation will pass prior to the July 4 recess.

Congressional Defense Activity

  •  HFAC
    • 7/1 “The End of One Country, Two Systems?: Implications of Beijing’s National Security Law in Hong Kong,” Full Committee Hearing, 2172 Rayburn/Virtual, 930am
    • 7/1 “The Trump Administration’s Response to COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean,” Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, and Trade Hearing, 2172 Rayburn/Virtual, 1pm
    • 7/2 “Why did the Trump Administration Fire the State Department Inspector General?” Full Committee Hearing, 2172 Rayburn/Virtual, 9am
  • SFRC
    • 6/30 “COVID-19 and U.S. International Pandemic Preparedness, Prevention, And Response: Additional Perspectives,” Full Committee Videoconference, 10am
  • SASC
    • No hearings for this week
  •  HASC
    • 7/1 “Full Committee Markup of H.R. 6395 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021,” Full Committee Mark-up, 1100 Longworth, 10am
  •  SAC-D
    • No hearings for this week
  •  HAC-D
    • No hearings for this week
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