Legislative Activity

House Armed Services Committee Introduces “By Request” NDAA Bill

On June 7, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) and Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) introduced H.R. 2810, the “by request” version of the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

This procedural measure is traditionally the first step in the legislative process for the NDAA. The introduced bill only reflects the legislative proposals submitted by the Department of Defense, but Armed Services Committee’s proposals will be incorporated into the bill during its markup.

The Committee is expected to hold its first markup of the legislation on June 28.

Mattis and Dunford to Testify at Armed Services and Appropriations Hearings

This week, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford will testify during four House and Senate hearings on the Department of Defense’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget.

Secretary Mattis and Gen. Dunford will discuss the Pentagon’s budget before the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, as well as the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Defense.

Their testimony will come as the House and Senate Armed Services Committees prepare to begin consideration of the NDAA in late June.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • On Monday, June 12, the House Armed Services Committee has scheduled a hearing titled “The Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Budget Request from the Department of Defense.”
  • On Tuesday, June 13, the Senate Armed Services Committee has scheduled a hearing titled “Department of Defense Budget Posture.”
  • On Tuesday, June 13, the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower has scheduled a hearing titled “Navy and Marine Corps Aviation Programs.”
  • On Tuesday, June 13, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security has scheduled a hearing titled “Immigration and Customs Enforcement &Customs and Border Protection FY18 Budget Request.”
  • On Wednesday, June 14, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has scheduled a hearing titled “Ideology and Terror: Understanding the Tools, Tactics, and Techniques of Violent Extremism.”
  • On Wednesday, June 14, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense has scheduled a hearing titled “Review of the FY 2018 Budget Request for the U.S. Dept. of Defense.”
  • On Wednesday, June 14, the House Homeland Security Committee has scheduled a markup of H.R. 2825 to amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to make certain improvements in the laws administered by the Secretary of Homeland Security and for other purposes.
  • On Thursday, June 15, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense has scheduled a Department of Defense budget hearing.
  • On Thursday, June 15, the Senate Armed Services Committee has scheduled a hearing titled “Posture of the Department of the Navy.”
  • On Friday, June 16, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies has scheduled a Federal Bureau of Investigation budget hearing.

Executive Branch Activity

Trump Administration Considering Expansion of Laptop Ban

In testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee last week, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly confirmed that the Trump Administration is considering whether to expand a ban on large electronic devises in airplane cabins to 71 additional airports in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. The restrictions, which currently apply to approximately 350 flights a week originating in 10 airports primarily in the Middle East, would expand to up to 400 flights a day, posing significant logistical challenges for airlines and airport administrators around the world.

Secretary Kelly confirmed that Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke will attend a conference in Malta next week where the US Government will present proposed security standards in an effort to mitigate the security risk posed by these electronics.

Pentagon’s BRAC Proposal Includes New Savings Requirement

The Defense Department’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget proposal requests authority from Congress to conduct a new round of base realignment and closures (BRAC) in 2021. Peter Potochney, the Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations, and the Energy, reassured the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies in a hearing last week that the proposal includes a requirement that the Secretary certify savings will follow within 5 years of the recommendations. He also noted that the recommendation would limit the Defense Secretary’s ability to recommend proposals that do not show cost savings within 20 years.

According to the Government Accountability Office, the up-front costs of the Defense Department’s 2005 BRAC round have increased from $21 billion to approximately $35.1 billion by 2011, a fact that some lawmakers have cited to argue against a new BRAC round.

During his testimony, Potochney also said that the proposal would not be limited to closing facilities on existing bases, but could also include the closure of entire facilities, adding “[e]verything’s on the table.”