Now, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), ranking member, SAC, says he will participate in the panel’s markups next week but that Republicans are unlikely to support any of the bills. “They are not trying to work with us. They are trying to squeeze the defense money out,” , “We have to see. We could not go… or we could go and vote no. But until we get some kind of bipartisan things going, I don’t see us moving,” Shelby said.
SA – on the debt limit, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the Senate Minority Leader, said today that Republicans will vote in unison to defeat any government funding bill that would also raise the nation’s debt ceiling. “Republicans are united in opposition to raising the debt ceiling,” McConnell declared
Earlier today, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman, SAC, said today the panel will mark up additional spending bills next week but declined to say which bills. “We set some markups for next week. We were going to do them this week but out of respect for those who are trying to get home for the holy days we put it off,” he said.
The fallout of the withdrawal from Afghanistan has been bipartisan from the start and now it is becoming crystallized in the Congress today. Earlier, we learned that Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, expressed his disappointment that SecDef declined the committee’s request to testify today and said that decision will affect his personal judgement on DOD nominees. Now, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) tells Punchbowl News he won’t consent to DoD or State nominations until SecState, SecDef, and Jake Sullivan, the National Security Advisor, resign. In his words, “I will not consent to the nomination of any nominee for the Department of Defense or for the Department of State until Secretary Austin and Secretary Blinken and Jake Sullivan resign.” It takes is one Senator to hold up the Senate’s business, to include nominations. Now, Democrats can get around this by filing cloture and confirming with floor votes but lower level State and Defense nominees can often be approved by voice vote or unanimous consent. So this will make it take longer and as mentioned, there is bipartisan outcry over the withdrawal.
The Senate is expected to adjourn tonight for the rest of the week returning next Monday. The House returns next week as well.
The House is scheduled to take up the NDAA when they return next week. The Rules Committee has begun publishing amendments submitted for consideration by lawmakers. According to Congressional Quarterly, “By Monday afternoon there were already 95 amendments listed, and that number is expected to keep growing as the week progresses. Not every proposal will be ruled germane and of the ones that are, not all will be adopted as part of the legislation.”
According to Theresa Hitchens of Breaking Defense, “Despite the long-standing efforts by DoD to improve the military’s aging space tracking system’s accuracy and timing by incorporating commercial data and services, both defense lawmakers and industry are getting impatient with the lack of progress.” Full piece: https://breakingdefense.com/2021/09/congress-industry-chivvy-space-force-on-commercial-ssa/
John Kirby, the Pentagon Press Secretary, responded to comments today from Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who expressed disappointment that SecDef did not appear before his committee this morning. “He greatly respects the oversight role of the Congress, and he looks forward to testifying at the end of this month before the Senate and House Armed Services Committees,” Kirby said. Menendez said that his absence from his Committee today will affect his personal judgement on DOD nominees.
In case you missed it, Gen. John Hyten, VCJCS, called out Congress yesterday in a Brookings presentation. “Do you think any taxpayer in this country would believe that for $700 billion a year, we can’t have a great defense? We should be able to, and it’s crazy that we can’t,” he said. According to Congressional Quarterly, “Hyten cited two inefficiencies that would need to change to avoid a ballooning defense budget. First, he said, old or new weapons that do not address current and emerging threats must be set aside. Second, Washington needs to enact budgets on time each fiscal year, rather than passing continuing resolutions that do not permit new programs to start or existing programs to expand their work.”
In a reference to space, Hyten said, “We’re having strategic stability talks with Russia to make sure we understand where we are, not just in the nuclear realm, but in space as well. We need to have that conversation start with the Chinese, we really do. We need to be able to sit down, I need to be able to sit down — Secretary Austin, the political leadership, the State Department — and talk about these issues with China.” He didn’t stop there with space. According to Air Force Magazine, “Among his top frustrations, Hyten said he issued a clarion call to create a resilient space architecture more than six years ago, when he was at Air Force Space Command. He complained that America’s satellites are “a bunch of fat, juicy targets” because so much depends on them for communications, navigation, and sensing. “Space Force has developed the concepts of what this new architecture is going to be, but we have not moved on that path.” Hyten said. The “same challenges” that were in the budget 10 years ago “are the same challenges … in the budget today,” he said. However, “the good news is,” because of strong investment in military space, “we just have exquisite, enormous advantages over an adversary for the foreseeable future.” Whether that’s “five years or 10 years, I can’t tell you, but as fast as China is going, probably on the lesser side,” Hyten said.
J.R. Cook, a Cadet at USAFA, has posted this video to LinkedIn with this message: “The future of space policy & strategy is here at USAFA! We are i5 Institute For Applied Space Policy & Strategy. Thanks to those who helped lay the foundations to get to this point: Coen Williams, JP Byrne, Erik Van Hegewald, Jonathon Gabriel. The future is bright!” Congratulations to Cadet Cook (who gave permission for me to share the link) and all those in the i5 Club leadership and membership for their hard work in the national security space arena! https://youtube.com/watch?v=_oYZB6oRMDE&feature=share
NASA Admin Bill Nelson said today Artemis – “I will launch at the end of this year. That’s how close we are,” he said.
On digital engineering, Dr. Will Roper, the former Assistant Secretary of the US Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, told Defense News, “[Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston] asked to meet with me in Washington and said: ‘We want to digitally transform the whole service, and we need help to do it.’ They want to chase [a] digital engineering approach for future fighters; they want to do the same cloud approach that we did with doing containerized development [for software].” He added, “Everyone is afraid they’re behind on digital engineering and this fourth industrial revolution that everyone believes is coming. You’re not behind, you’re with everyone else at the starting line. But the starting pistol has fired and you’ve got to run because this is going to be as the hype portends.” For more on what Roper said, please visit https://www.defensenews.com/digital-show-dailies/dsei/2021/09/14/former-us-air-force-acquisition-czar-could-help-the-uk-build-its-future-fighter/.