Morning Defense: SASC begins NDAA markup today

NPP Pressroom

Bryan Bender

The Senate Armed Services Committee begins consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act today. Subcommittees tackle their portions of the bill Monday and Tuesday and the full committee markup begins on Wednesday. All but the Personnel Subcommittee session will be behind closed doors. Here’s the lowdown:

Monday: Readiness at 2:30 p.m.Strategic Forces at 4 p.m.

Tuesday: Emerging Threats and Capabilities at 9:30 a.m.Airland at 11 a.m.Personnel at 2 p.m.Seapower at 3:30 p.m.Cybersecurity at 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday: The full committee markup begins at 9:30 a.m. (The panel has also walled off Thursday if more time is needed).

What to watch for: Democratic Sens. Tim Kaine of Virginia and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut have said they’ll offer amendments to address the military’s role in responding to racial justice protests. Blumenthal is seeking to limit Trump’s authority to deploy troops under the Insurrection Act, while Kaine has suggested he’ll propose blocking funding to use military force against Americans. We could also see attempts to curtail or shutter the Pentagon program that allows surplus military gear to be transferred to civilian law enforcement agencies.

What do advocacy groups want? A number of organizations from across the political spectrum tell Morning D they believe it is time for Congress to make some big cuts in defense spending as part of a wider reevaluation of investment priorities:

— “Smartly reduce spending by eliminating weapons programs which are geared towards the conflicts of the past, shrinking excess military infrastructure and terminating activities like the European [Deterrence] Initiative which discourages wealthy European countries from spending more on their own defense,” recommends Dan Caldwell, senior adviser for the conservative Concerned Veterans for America.

— Be on the lookout for how “contractors are using the pandemic as a profiteering opportunity,” advises Mandy Smithberger, director of the Center for Defense Information at the Project On Government Oversight, a nonpartisan government watchdog.

 “At a minimum,” the defense budget should be reduced “by cutting war spending and unnecessary weapons and service contracts,” says Lindsay Koshgarian, program director of the National Priorities Project, a left-leaning advocate for budget reform.

HOUSE ALSO SETS MARKUP: The House Armed Services Committee, meanwhile, will mark up its version of the NDAA on July 1, Connor O'Brien reports. Its half-dozen subcommittees will consider their portions of the bill on June 22 and 23. Read the full HASC schedule here. The bill is expected to hit the House floor in late July.

Read the full article on Politico.