This week in Congress: A look ahead at next year’s priorities


As members of Congress wrap up their work for 2020 this week, they’ll also be eyeing the work ahead in 2021.

Lawmakers on multiple committees — including the House Armed Services committee and both chamber’s veterans policy panels — will hold hearings this week that will serve as partial previews of priorities for the 117th Congress.

The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee has a hearing scheduled Wednesday looking at the issue of toxic exposure illnesses and the Department of Veterans Affairs’ response, an issue that is expected to get significant attention in the next congressional session. The panel and its Senate counterpart will also hold hearings this week on VA’s response to the ongoing pandemic, specifically discussing what veterans’ future needs.

The House Armed Services Committee will hear from members of the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee, whose report will likely form the basis of significant Defense Department reform legislation next year.

And the House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a series of hearings this week looking at current and future U.S. policy in key regions across the globe.

Tuesday, Dec. 8

House Veterans’ Affairs — 10 a.m.— online hearing

Pandemic support

The committee will discuss legislative priorities for the 117th Congress and ongoing support for veterans amid the pandemic.

House Foreign Affairs — 10 a.m. — 2172 Rayburn

U.S.-Balkans Policy

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and other outside experts will testify on recommendations for future U.S. policy in the Balkans.

Senate Commerce— 2:30 p.m. — 253 Russell

Coast Guard Arctic Operations

Coast Guard Vice Commandant Adm. Charles Ray will testify on service operations in the Arctic.

Wednesday, Dec. 9

Senate Veterans’ Affairs — 10 a.m. — G-50 Dirksen

VA’s pandemic response

Department officials will testify on VA’s response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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


Special Envoy for Syria Joel Rayburn will testify on current U.S. policy regarding Syria.

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

Toxic exposures

Outside experts will testify on toxic exposure issues and VA’s response regarding benefits and care.

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

Fort Hood

Members of the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee will detail their findings.

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

Women Veterans

The Women Veterans Task Force will hold a roundtable discussing the results of its year-end report on VA’s response to women veterans’ needs.

Thursday, Dec. 10

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


Outside experts will testify on U.S. policy towards Taiwan.


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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