National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

Last Thursday, the House passed the Senate-House compromise FY 2015 Carl Levin and Howard P. ‘Buck’ McKeon NDAA by a vote of 300-119. Retiring House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-California) gave his farewell address on the House floor last week, imploring,

“I hope sometime next year a compromise can come to the floor that will end sequestration.”

This week, the Senate is expected to vote on the $577.1 billion bill (H.R. 3979), which sets Pentagon policy and funding levels through October 2015. Similar to the House, the Senate leadership is likely to take procedural steps to preclude votes on amendments.

Secretary of Defense

Last Friday, President Barack Obama  announced his intention to nominate former Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter as the next Secretary of Defense. Mr. Carter is expected to be able to win Senate approval in the Republican-controlled 114th Congress.

Hostage Rescue Mission

President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel condemned last Friday’s murder of U.S. photojournalist Luke Somers in Yemen by al Qaeda terrorists as U.S. and Yemeni military forces attempted a rescue. President Obama said:

“It is my highest responsibility to do everything possible to protect American citizens. As this and previous hostage rescue operations demonstrate, the United States will spare no effort to use all of its military, intelligence, and diplomatic capabilities to bring Americans home safely, wherever they are located. And terrorists who seek to harm our citizens will feel the long arm of American justice.”

ISIL

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Kerry will testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the Obama Administration’s policy against the Islamic State and congressional authorization of the use of military force. While President Obama has said that he would “welcome” congressional approval, the Administration has drawn criticism from Republicans for not sending Congress a military authorization to consider.

Congressional Hearings

  • On Tuesday, December 9, the Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for the following individuals:  Robert Scher to be Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans, and Capabilities; Elissa Slotkin to be Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs; David Berteau to be Assistant Secretary of Defense for Logistics and Materiel Readiness; and Alissa Starzak to be General Counsel of the Department of the Army.
  • On Wednesday, December 10, the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces will hold a hearing titled, “Russian Arms Control Cheating and the Administration’s Responses.”