WASHINGTON — Lawmakers will pack in a host of veterans and defense business before their short July 4 recess, with a defense appropriations vote expected in the House this week and a Veterans Affairs confirmation hearing in the Senate on Wednesday.

The debate over the $675 billion appropriations plan, expected to be approved after a week of partisan amendment fights on the House floor, sets up the possiblity of Congress advancing federal budget bills months early than has been the recent practice.

Both House and Senate officials have said they hope to get significant work done before the start of the next fiscal year, Oct. 1. The two chambers are set to start conference committee work on the annual defense authorization bill this week as well.

Similarly, senators are optimistic they can move quickly on resolving leadership issues at the Department of Veterans Affairs. On Wednesday, they’ll question VA Secretary nominee Robert Wilkie over his goals for the post, and how he plans to bring stability to a department that has seen its top executive fired twice since spring 2014.

Tuesday, June 26

Senate Appropriations — 9:30 a.m. — Dirksen 192
Defense Budget
The subcommittee on defense will mark up its draft of the fiscal 2019 defense budget bill.

Senate Armed Services — 9:30 a.m. — Dirksen G-50
The committee will consider the nomination of Lt. Gen. Stephen Lyons to be head of U.S. Transportation Command.

House Veterans' Affairs — 10 a.m. — Cannon 334
Electronic health records
VA officials will testify about plans to modernize VA health records and make them compatible with Defense Department digital files.

House Science and Technology — 10:30 a.m. — Rayburn 2318
Artificial Intelligence
Outside experts will testify on developments with artificial intelligence and potential problems with the technology.

House Veterans' Affairs — 2 p.m. — Cannon 334
Hiring veterans
Employment experts will testify before the committee on issues with hiring and retaining veterans.

Wednesday, June 27

House Oversight — 10 a.m. — Rayburn 2154
Government reorganization
Administration officials will testify about plans to consolidate several government agencies and reassign a host of related programs, including veterans job training initiatives.

Senate Veterans' Affairs — 2:30 p.m. — Russell 418
The committee will consider the nomination of Robert Wilkie to be Veterans Affairs Secretary.

House Foreign Affairs — 2:30 p.m. — Rayburn 2172
State Department officials and outside experts will testify on instability in Cameroon and national security implications for the United States.

House Veterans' Affairs — 3 p.m. — Cannon 334
Pending legislation
The subcommittee on health will mark up several pending bills.

Thursday, June 28

House Armed Services — 8:30 a.m. — Rayburn 2212
Depot policies
Army and Marine Corps officials will testify on depot policies and readiness issues facing their services.

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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