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Tuesday Snapshot: Once Again, Unto the Levant?

Jun. 24, 2014 - 08:29AM   |  
By JOHN T. BENNETT   |   Comments
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki meet Monday at the Prime Minister's Office in Baghdad.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki meet Monday at the Prime Minister's Office in Baghdad. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)
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WASHINGTON — Another busy week is shaping up for national security issues on Capitol Hill, with lawmakers continuing to press for US military action in Iraq.

The week kicks off with a busy Tuesday. Here are three things to watch:

ONCE AGAIN, UNTO THE LEVANT?

The world is watching President Barack Obama as he mulls US military action in Iraq and presses leaders there for a plan to fashion a new unity government.

At several hearings on Tuesday and as lawmakers traverse the Capitol for votes and caucus meetings, reporters will be waiting with questions about how a potential US mission might be carried out — and when. Will new lawmakers join the pro-US strikes group?

At 2:15 p.m., the Senate Foreign Relations Committee could approve the nomination of Stuart Jones to be the next ambassador to Iraq. That could set up a noisy floor vote, though Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has killed the 60-vote threshold for executive nominations. Will Republicans search for a way to at least get floor time before a floor vote on the Jones nomination to criticize the president’s Iraq plans?

ACQUISITION REFORM

The House Armed Services Committee will hear from a handful of experts at 10 a.m. as it continues examining ways the Defense Department might improve how it buys things.

At the witness table will be former Pentagon industrial base chief Brett Lambert, former Pentagon chief management officer Elizabeth McGrath, and retired Vice Admiral David Venlet, a former F-35 program executive officer.

A former general once laughed when your correspondent called him up about a past acquisition reform effort. When asked about his chuckle, the former general advised reporters to “not waste your time” covering DoD acquisition reform because “no one in the system will ever let it happen.”

That was several years ago, but history has proven the source correct. Can HASC find a way to change that?

SENATE BILLS

The upper chamber’s Appropriations Defense subcommittee is the only defense panel that has yet to complete its 2015 Pentagon bill. Chairman Richard Durbin, D-Ill., has said the subcommittee will mark up its Pentagon appropriations bill the week after the July 4 recess.

But he has yet to lock in a day for that session. Could we get a final date on Tuesday?

And will Durbin or other Defense subcommittee members reveal whether -- and how -- the panel’s bill might block the military’s cost-cutting proposals, like one to retire the A-10 attack plane fleet?

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