Legislative Activity

House Armed Services Chairman Introduces Defense Acquisition Reform Bill

On May 18, Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, introduced the Defense Acquisition Streamlining and Transparency Act (H.R. 2511), a defense acquisition reform bill. The draft legislation would allow the Pentagon to use e-commerce for commercial-off-the-shelf items and streamline the defense contract audit process and the acquisition of services.

When introducing the bill, Chairman Thornberry explained that the proposed reforms would not only “promote greater transparency and accountability” but would also “save money over the long term.”

The draft legislation is the third installment of the committee’s acquisition reform initiative and will inform provisions to be offered in the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.

The entire bill text can be found here.

Lawmakers Introduce Federal Immigration Legislation

On May 16, Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) introduced the Michael Davis, Jr. and Danny Oliver in Honor of State and Local Law Enforcement Act (H.R. 2431). The bill, which is cosponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Reps. John Carter (R-TX) and Lamar Smith (R-TX), is designed to enhance the enforcement of federal immigration law and crack down on sanctuary jurisdictions.

The bill’s provisions include:

  • Allowing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hire 12,500 additional officers and arrest undocumented immigrants on suspicion of having committed a felony;
  • Providing state and local law enforcement officers the authority to arrest, detain, transfer to federal custody, or otherwise penalize undocumented immigrants for violations of federal immigration law to the same extent as federal law enforcement personnel;
  • Providing grants to state and local law enforcement agencies for the procurement of equipment, technology, facilities, and other products relating to the detention of removable undocumented immigrants;
  • Directing the construction of additional detention facilities;
  • Amending 8 U.S.C. § 1373 to ensure no entity may prohibit or in any way restrict federal, state, or local government entities from complying with federal immigration law or federal requests for information about undocumented immigrants;
  • Making the receipt of Department of Justice or Department of Homeland Security grant funding conditional upon compliance with federal immigration law;
  • Clarifying ICE’s authority to issue detainers for undocumented immigrants with probable cause that an individual is inadmissible or removable;
  • Criminalizing violations of immigration law; and
  • Establishing new screening standards for U.S. visas, including the submission of DNA and social media information for certain applicants.

The bill was originally set for consideration at an earlier Judiciary Committee markup, but was delayed due to floor votes. The Committee has rescheduled the markup for Tuesday, May 23. The Committee will also consider the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Authorization Act (H.R. 2406) and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Authorization Act (H.R. 2407) during Tuesday’s markup.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • On Tuesday, May 23, the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities has scheduled a hearing titled “Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Request for U.S. Cyber Command: Cyber Mission Force Support to Department of Defense Operations.”
  • On Tuesday, May 23, the Senate Armed Service Committee has scheduled a hearing titled “Worldwide Threats.”
  • On Tuesday, May 23, the Senate Armed Service Seapower Subcommittee has scheduled a closed briefing titled “Navy Readiness Challenges, Emerging Threats, and the Requirements Underpinning the 355 Ship Force Structure Objective.”
  • On Tuesday, May 23, the Senate Armed Service Cybersecurity Subcommittee has scheduled a hearing titled “Cyber Posture of the Services.”
  • On Tuesday, May 23, the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security has scheduled a hearing titled “Visa Overstays: A Gap in the Nation’s Border Security.”
  • On Wednesday, May 24, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has scheduled a hearing titled “Border Insecurity: The Rise of MS-13 and Other Transnational Criminal Organizations.”
  • On Wednesday, May 24, the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces has scheduled a hearing titled “Department of the Navy FY 2018 Budget Request for Seapower and Projection Forces.”
  • On Wednesday, May 24, the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces has scheduled a hearing titled “Ground Force Modernization Budget Request.”
  • On Wednesday, May 24, the Senate Armed Services Seapower Subcommittee has scheduled a hearing titled “Industry Perspectives on Options and Considerations for Achieving a 355 Ship Navy.”
  • On Wednesday, May 24, the Senate Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee has scheduled a hearing titled “Department of Energy Atomic Energy Defense Activities and Programs.”
  • On Wednesday, May 24, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense has scheduled a hearing titled “National Guard and Reserve.”
  • On Wednesday, May 24, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security has scheduled a hearing titled “The DHS FY18 Budget Request.”
  • On Wednesday, May 24, the Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing to examine the following nominations:
    • Vishal J. Amin to be Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, Executive Office of the President;
    • Stephen Elliott Boyd to be an Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs; and
    • Lee Francis Cissna to be Director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security
  • On Thursday, May 25, the Senate Armed Services Committee has scheduled a hearing titled “Posture of the Department of the Army.”
  • On Thursday, May 25, the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces has scheduled a hearing titled “Department of the Air Force FY 2018 Budget Request for Seapower and Projection Forces.”
  • On Thursday, May 25, the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces has scheduled a hearing titled “Fiscal Year 2018 Priorities for Nuclear Forces and Atomic Energy Defense Activities.”
  • On Thursday, May 25, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Investigations Subcommittee has scheduled a hearing titled “Stopping the Shipment of Synthetic Opioids: Oversight of U.S. Strategy to Combat Illicit Drugs.”

Executive Branch Activity

Key Civilian Posts Filled at the Pentagon

On May 18, the Pentagon announced that Secretary James Mattis has filled three key civilian positions at the Department of Defense.

Stephen Kitay, a retired Air Force officer and staffer on the House Armed Services Committee, was selected to serve as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy. Sergio de la Peña, CEO of de la Peña Consulting, will be the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Western Hemisphere Affairs, while Vayl Oxford was selected to be the Director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

All three positions do not require Senate confirmation.