This week in Congress: Countdown to shutdown, election


Congress returns to work this week with less than four weeks of scheduled legislative days left on the 2020 calendar and just 16 days to pass a new budget agreement or risk a partial government shutdown.

Lawmakers are expected to approve a continuing resolution in coming days which would extend fiscal 2020 spending past Oct. 1, likely until the end of 2020. Although Congressional committees have made some progress on advancing budget bills in recent months, most officials do not expect them to be finalized until after the November election, if not later.

As a result, defense and Veterans Affairs programs are expected to operate for the rest of 2020 at current funding levels, with new program starts and new equipment purchases limited by financial constraints.

Senate Republicans failed to advance a new coronavirus stimulus package last week, making a compromise on that issue unlikely before the election. Lawmakers in both chambers are expected to work until early October on various issues before a month-long break before voters head to the polls.

Tuesday, Sept. 15

House Foreign Affairs — 11 a.m. — online hearing

Latin America

Outside experts will testify on economic and political challenges to U.S. national security in Latin America.

House Armed Services — 1 p.m. — 2118 Rayburn

PFAS clean up

Defense officials will testify before the subcommittee on readiness about efforts to repair environmental damage caused by PFAS contamination at military bases.

Wednesday, Sept. 16

House Veterans’ Affairs — 10 a.m. — Visitors Center H210

Education technology issues

The subcommittee on technology will discuss the future of education services information technology.

House Foreign Affairs — 10 a.m. — online hearing

State Department IG

Committee members will discuss concerns surrounding the firing of the State Department’s inspector general.

House Veterans’ Affairs — 2 p.m. — online hearing

Medical supply chain

VA officials will discuss lessons learned from the coronavirus pandemic about improvements needed in the department’s medical supply chain.

Thursday, Sept. 17

House Homeland Security — 9 a.m. — Cannon 310

Worldwide threats

Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf will testify before the committee on national and international threats.

Senate Armed Services — 9:30 a.m. — G-50 Dirksen

NNSA budget

The committee will discuss the proposed FY21 budget for the National Nuclear Security Administration Budget.

Senate Foreign Relations — 10 a.m. — 106 Dirksen

U.S.-China relations

State Department officials will testify on U.S. and China tensions in the Indo-Pacific region.

House Armed Services — 1 p.m. — 2118 Rayburn

Artificial Intelligence

Officials from the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence will testify on their findings and recommendations.


Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.

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