WASHINGTON — Six House Armed Services Committee subpanels have signed off on their portions of a Pentagon policy bill, leaving contentious issues like the A-10 attack plane's future to be decided by all HASC members.
The subcommittees on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning moved quickly through what HASC calls public markups, most approving their parts of the bill in five or 10 minutes.
As is the committee's custom, its Tactical Air and Land Forces subcommittee opted against addressing whether to reverse an Air Force proposal to retire its A-10s in its section of the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
"That's definitely a full committee issue," a HASC Republican aide told reporters.
A-10 proponents, including former Thunderbolt pilot Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., are expected to angle to keep the planes flying when the full committee marks up the legislation next Wednesday.
She penned a recent New York Times op-ed arguing to block the Air Force's retirement plans for what would be the second consecutive year. But a McSally spokesman has not responded to an inquiry about her plans for a possible A-10 amendment at the full HASC markup.
A Democratic HASC aide told reporters the matter "has taken up less time this year" among staffers and members than in the run-up to last year's NDAA markup because . That's because, he said, "the facts haven't changed," he said.
HASC aides briefed reporters throughout the day on Wednesday, but declined to disclose specific program funding lines or numbers of platforms the legislation would authorize the armed services to spend and purchase.
Even when reporters pushed back, the aides cast any such numbers merely as "proposals" from the subcommittees to the full committee, and not publicly releasable.
The full committee markup will be the first under new Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas.
Aides say the full panel markup could last until 3 a.m. next Thursday. That's because Japan's prime minister is slated to address a joint session of Congress next Wednesday morning and the House is planning a series of lengthy vote sessions.