CAPITOL HILL MATTERS
SA – Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), vice-chairman, HAC-D, has tested positive for COVID-19 despite being vaccinated, becoming the 11th member of Congress to experience a breakthrough case.
On the Senate floor a short time ago, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the Senate Majority Leader, said, “The next few weeks will be critical weeks for the Senate. Members should be prepared for the possibility of working late nights and into the weekend … On addressing the debt limit, madam president, the Republicans are doing a dine and dash of historic proportions … in the immediate future, both parties will have to come together to allow the federal government to continue its most important responsibility — paying the bills and making good on our outstanding obligations. A few minutes ago, I joined with Speaker Pelosi in announcing that the continuing resolution that we will take up to avoid a government shutdown will also include a suspension of the debt limit through December of 2022, allowing us to meet our obligations and preserve the full faith and credit of these United States of America.” For his part, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the Senate Minority Leader, also said on the Senate floor, “Democrats have unified control… Since Democrats decided to go it alone [on reconciliation] they will not get Senate Republicans’ help with raising the debt limit. I’ve explained this clearly and consistently for two months.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced that House Democrats will combine a short-term CR with an increase in the debt limit, a package slated to hit the floor this week. In a joint statement, she and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the Senate Majority Leader, said, “This week, the House of Representatives will pass legislation to fund the government through December of this year to avoid a needless government shutdown that would harm American families and our economic recovery before the September 30th deadline … The legislation to avoid a government shutdown will also include a suspension of the debt limit through December 2022 to once again meet our obligations and protect the full faith and credit of the United States.”
On the NDAA, Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), chairman, HASC, reiterates that he supports the POTUS $715B defense budget, not the higher $740B level that’s now in the NDAA, but acknowledges that he lost the vote fair and square in committee.
On the NDAA, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), ranking member, HASC, urges Rules to “keep out superfluous amendments” from the rule for the NDAA. Several non-defense items have been filed (Gulf oil drilling ban, public lands legislation, etc.). Just as the SASC is doing this week and next with hearings on the withdrawal in Afghanistan, the HASC will be full of talk surrounding all of this over the course of the week judging by what has been said at the Rules Committee today.
BLUF: Things haven’t been nailed down yet in terms of details of a CR bill needed to avoid a partial government shutdown starting 1 Oct even as a House Rules Committee hearing today got underway. “Lawmakers and staff spent the weekend and early Monday trading offers on the package, which is likely to continue current agency budget levels with some exceptions, known as “anomalies,” through Dec. 3 or Dec. 10. The measure is expected to carry supplemental aid for disaster victims and Afghan refugees, among other items still being negotiated. Also still in play, according to sources familiar with the talks, were extensions of authorizations that lapse on Oct. 1 without action from Congress,” according to Congressional Quarterly.
SA – House Rules ranking member Tom Cole (R-OK) predicts most Republicans will back the NDAA as long as the budget levels and main substance stay where they are. House/Sen Approps staff from both parties are meeting right now to try to finish up the CR bill. Several unresolved issues. Rules is meeting now, but there may not be a bill until tomorrow. Inclusion of debt ceiling is still unresolved, as well.
Speaking of the debt limit, “GOP senators say they won’t take any action to keep the U.S. solvent, insisting that Democrats must do so on their own. But President Biden and congressional Democrats are dialing up the pressure, hoping they’ll blink and help the U.S. pay off debts the country has accumulated over the years under both Democratic and Republican administrations,” according to The Hill. Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY.), chairman, House Budget Committee, on Sunday called the U.S. debt ceiling crisis “a ridiculous position to be in. We have several options for raising the debt ceiling, which is absolutely, absolutely mandatory,” Yarmuth said while appearing on “Fox News Sunday.” Pelosi, in a letter late Sunday, reiterated how increasing the debt limit has been a bipartisan endeavor for the last decade, including during the Trump administration. “When we take up the debt limit this month, we expect it to be bipartisan once more,” Pelosi wrote. According to Congressional Quarterly, “the possibility is real that the U.S. government might not be able to meet its commitments in full and on time. The deadline, according to Treasury, is sometime next month, but the sooner the better in order to calm financial markets, officials say.”
On Friday, the prime ministers of Australia, India and Japan will come to the White House to discuss their alliance against the rising power of China.
SecAF on change and how to “be stronger”: “To be stronger, we are going to have to change. … We have to respond with a sense of urgency, but we also have to take the time necessary to make smart choices about our future and our investments. To get change right, we must improve our ability to analyze and understand the operational possibilities that technology is providing. We must be open-minded and objective about the operational doors that technologies like autonomy, artificial intelligence, and data analytics can open for us. We should not be doing demonstrations and experiments unless we can link them to true operational improvements and unless they move us down the field to lower-risk acquisition programs. I intend to strengthen these linkages and to use state-of-the-art analytical tools to do so.” – AF.mil 20 Sep 2021
In his speech today, SecAF added, “Only the Air and Space Forces have the ability to control the global high ground. Only the Air and Space Forces can project power on short notice to anywhere that it is needed. Only the Air and Space Forces have the ability to confront and defeat aggression immediately, wherever it occurs. Only the Air and Space Forces have the ability to come to the aid of our global allies and partners with little to no notice when and where aggression occurs.”
SecAF On Space Force, he said the service is “pursuing a space-based ground moving target indicator, or GMTI, capability,” that will “replace a portion of the JSTARS sensing capability. It will surpass the range limitations of current air platforms, and will provide capabilities in both contested and non-contested environments.”
SecAF on Space Force: “We’ve also got the problem of the new Space Force and how to make that a success. We’ve got a department that traditionally has been a one-service department, which is now a two-service department. We’ll be taking a look at what we’ve done so far to address that reality, and seeing if some adjustments need to be made there. That’s a work in progress, but I think it’s off to a good start. I think there are a few tweaks that we may want to make as we define the different roles or the different parts of that organization overall, and decide what functions belong where and how they’re structured … I think we are starting to move towards a very different type of posture in space because of the threats that we see there. The startup years … tend to be relatively inexpensive compared to the years in which you’re procuring and fielding capability. It’s not close to us, necessarily, yet in terms of immediate years. But at some point, we have to get the order of battle that we need in space, and I think that’s going to require some increased funding in that area.” – Defense News 20 Sep 2021
SecAF on China: “China has been very careful and strategic about fielding capabilities designed to keep us out of their part of the world. … We do have a serious challenger, and we’re at some risk, and we need to address that and focus on that and work together to achieve that objective.” – Defense News 20 Sep 2021
SA – Press Release from Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) as he announced on Friday that the U.S. Air Force has formally approved Grand Forks Air Force Base to house a Space Networking Center, which will support the Space Development Agency’s (SDA) new low-Earth orbit (LEO) mission and serve as the backbone for all U.S. military communications across the globe.
Lt. Gen. Stephen N. Whiting, Commander, Space Operations Command, on aging infrastructure used to operate satellites: “Certainly the Satellite Control Network is a venerable system that’s been around for a long time. So we have multiple efforts ongoing to ensure that it’s ready for the future that we now find ourselves in. We’ve worked with the squadrons that fly the satellites to make sure they’re only coming to the network when they absolutely have to. There was a time when we had a lot of extra capacity and you can just go do extra ‘states of health’ on your satellites. We’re trying to lower the demand signal. And we’re looking at new capabilities coming on, like phased array antennas which would give us a significant increase in capacity, as well as partnering with commercial and civil organizations to use their satellite control networks.” – SpaceNews 19 Sep 2021
According to SpaceNews, “Diplomats and other experts see signs of progress at the United Nations on addressing space sustainability but caution it may will take many years before any sort of binding agreement emerges. In presentations at the Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies, or AMOS, Conference here Sept. 17, officials said a United Nations resolution last December, passed with overwhelming support, could help build momentum for further discussions on the development of norms of behavior in space.”
On 23 Sep at 1000, Brookings will host Elbridge Colby, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and force development, for a virtual event to discuss his approach to the long-term challenge of deterring China. For more information and to register, please visit https://www.brookings.edu/events/how-should-the-united-states-deter-china.
On 22 Sep at 1730, NatSecSpace happy hour (Hosted by Aaron Bateman, Steve Jordan Tomaszewski, and Sean Wilson) will have another happy hour. The location is; Clarendon Pop-Up Bar, 3185 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201. According to an email sent, “Look for NatSecSpace, with a national security space themed cocktail – the “SAMOSa”. These events usually garner attendance from the White House, Pentagon, IC, Capitol Hill, industry, media, think tanks and academia.