According to Punchbowl News, “The expectation is that Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and top Democrats will add a provision extending the debt limit until December 2022 — after the midterm elections — but that hasn’t been finalized yet. A decision on the hugely controversial topic may not come until Monday morning, some Democratic sources said. Republicans are opposed to linking the two issues; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has repeatedly said he will block any short-term funding bill including a debt-limit boost from passing the Senate. The CR will likely fund federal agencies through Dec. 3, but like the debt limit, this is fluid too. A Dec. 10 end date has also been discussed by negotiators.”
On the NDAA – Punchbowl writes, “The House is also slated to take up the National Defense Authorization Act next week as well, another issue where moderate and progressive Democrats are clashing. The House Armed Services Committee approved a nearly $24 billion increase in the defense budget for next year, a move strongly opposed by progressives. But with Biden and Democratic leaders reeling from the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the country facing increased “great power” competition with China and Russia, defense hawks in both parties want to see Pentagon spending increased. Due to the opposition on the left, Pelosi is going to need Republicans to help pass the measure.”
According to Axios, Multiple congressional offices will be closed Friday amid security precautions ahead of Saturday’s rally. House and Senate offices are taking precautionary measures to protect staff as well as lawmakers. Neither the House nor Senate is voting or meeting over the weekend.
In the Senate, there are key Senators who may be eyeing the exits, according to CNN. The mid-terms some 15 months away so time is of the essence for decisions to be made. Sen. John Thune (R-SD), the Senate Minority Whip, is “struggling” with whether to run again. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), a member of the body since 1980 and who turns 88 tomorrow, is mum as is Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman, SAC, and now the longest-serving member having been first elected in 1975. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) says deciding whether to seek a third term is on the “backburner” for him and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) isn’t saying a word.
As the House prepares to take up a CR next week, it’s worth pointing out that on 15 Jun, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), ranking member, SAC, said, “I think we’ll be around here in December, trying to fund the government … It’s going to be a long winter.” Not a bad prediction as congressional leadership are looking at early December as a potential end date for the CR. Shelby announced in February he would not seek another six-year term.
The House Committee on Rules will meet on Monday at Noon on the NDAA and a CR, among a couple other items on the agenda.
On the Hill, the talks among Senate Democrats are increasingly focusing on tying the debt limit to the CR. That vote could occur in the Senate on 29 Sep. There is no end game in sight as of right now. All of this as Punchbowl News reports, “Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday to discuss the debt-limit situation, according to multiple sources familiar with the conversation. But it doesn’t sound like much progress was made, the latest sign of how dug in both sides are on this issue with potentially just weeks before the federal government exhausts its borrowing capacity.” Yellen told McConnell that Congress should move as quickly as possible to raise the debt limit. A McConnell spokesman said last night, “The leader repeated to Secretary Yellen what he has said publicly since July: This is a unified Democrat government, engaging in a partisan reckless tax and spending spree. They will have to raise the debt ceiling on their own and they have the tools to do it.”
On the HASC NDAA, Two House Democrats have offered amendments to the fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill related to the U.S. military’s submission of unfunded priorities lists to Congress, with one provision aiming to eliminate them and the other proposing to restrict them. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has proposed an amendment that would eliminate the law requiring the military to submit unfunded priorities lists to Congress. Inside Defense picked up on this.
Audrey Schaffer, National Security Council’s Director for Space Policy, on Space Traffic Management, in a speech before the Intelligence and National Security Summit: “When you look at the changes in the number of space objects that are anticipated to be on orbit in the next 10 years, it is an exponential shift. And the system that we have today is just really not capable, it will not be capable of handling the traffic that we see in 10 or 15 years … you’ve got these incredible capabilities coming out of the private sector … the kinds of space traffic management services that, frankly, are urgently needed … Personally, I see an incredible opportunity to bring together all of these different actors and entities who have been playing in this space, and to have the United States take a leadership role, along with U.S. industry and internationally to kind of create that system for the future.” – NextGov 15 Sep 2021
Former SecAF Deborah Lee James has been named as chair of the Defense Business Board. James spoke of the decision on her LinkedIn page, “Beyond thrilled to be sworn in by Deputy Secretary of Defense Kath Hicks as the chair of the Defense Business Board. Our charge is to advise DOD on best business management practices that can help save money, utilize technology in new ways and make DOD more efficient. Can’t wait to get started!!” Of note, Sally Donnelly, a Founding Partner, Pallas Advisors and former Senior Advisor to SecDef Mattis, is also on the Board. For a complete list, please visit https://dbb.defense.gov/Members/.
Tomorrow at 1415, Gen. John Hyten, VCJCS, will speak before The Atlantic Council to discuss “how the US Department of Defense is transforming its own deterrence and defense strategies to meet twenty-first century security challenges.” For more information and to register, please visit https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/event/toward-integrated-deterrence-a-conversation-with-vice-chairman-of-the-joint-chiefs-of-staff-gen-john-e-hyten-usaf/.
On COVID-19, John Kirby, the Pentagon Press Secretary, said Wednesday, “For the active duty force, we’re just under 88 percent now have received at least one dosage and since the vaccine mandate, the rates have increased. So an additional 11 and a half percent now have received at least one dose since the mandate and then an additional five percent are now fully vaccinated.”
A new report from GAO has found that the Pentagon has adapted to operating under the constraints of a CR after starting 11 of the past 12 fiscal years under one. The GAO found that Pentagon officials will adjust contracts and develop legislative proposals and spending plans that prepare the department for a CR. That report is attached.
Maj. Gen. DeAnna Burt, commander of the Combined Force Space Component Command on Space Traffic Management and getting commercial services more involved, in a speech before the AMOS conference: “We need to pick up debris. We need trash trucks. We need things to go make debris go away. I think there is a use case for industry to go after that as a service-based opportunity.” – SpaceNews 16 Sep 2021
Maj. Gen. DeAnna Burt, commander of the Combined Force Space Component Command on Space Traffic Management and having the Commerce Department as the lead agency, in a speech before the AMOS conference: “We, as the Department of Defense, look forward to the Department of Commerce taking on this mission and standing up. We stand shoulder to shoulder to help them to do that and to be successful. We will continue to do the space traffic awareness mission until we are told not to and the Department of Commerce is fully up and capable. But we want them to be successful because we need to get out of that business because the threat is growing. It is critical that, to normalize this domain, we continue to work in that direction.” – SpaceNews 16 Sep 2021
At the DSEI 2021 trade show in London yesterday, Air Vice-Marshal Paul Godfrey said of space domain awareness, “There are so many different sensors out there already, it is about initially bringing that data together, understanding that data, using that data so we’ve got a single picture and understanding of what is going on. In terms of enhanced space domain awareness, we are developing foundational capability in sensors and data … and continuing our research and development program for [civilian and military] international sensors.”