Week ahead: House digs into annual defense bill

House lawmakers this week will begin to mark up the chamber’s draft of the annual defense policy bill, with subcommittees set to convene Wednesday to start the process.

Markups for the House fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) begin with the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m., followed by the Tactical Air and Land Forces subpanel at 4 p.m.

Then on Thursday, the Readiness, Strategic Forces, Personnel and Seapower subcommittee will mark up its portions of the bill at 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., respectively.

The subcommittees are jumpstarting the arduous process of crafting the NDAA, which has already been delayed thanks in part to President Trump’s transition into the White House and a late presidential budget, introduced in May.

The actions come a week after all four Senate and House defense panels heard from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford on what they want in the defense budget.

Both leaders stressed that the Pentagon can use every dollar given to tackle a combat readiness issue caused by sequestration, and advocated for the items in the four military services’ unfunded requirements lists.

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has repeatedly made it clear he wants a $640 billion NDAA – far above Trump’s $603 billion base defense budget – but told reporters last week he’s still undecided on the topline.

“We’re still discussing because it’s not just us, it’s the appropriators and the budget, so we’ve been meeting with leadership trying to figure out the best way forward and talking with the Senate too,” Thornberry told reporters following the Monday evening House committee hearing with Mattis and Dunford.

Though a topline of $640 million is not likely, lawmakers have indicated the number will be above Trump’s $603 billion.

Rep. Kay GrangerKay GrangerWeek ahead:…

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