Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
May 23, 2015

Killer Robots, Outer Space and Defense Spending Bill in Week Ahead

There are three hearings this week on the president’s war-related spending account budget request and two committee votes on the fiscal 2015 defense spending bill. But, yes, killer robots and outer space are also on the agenda.

The U.S. Institute of Peace on Monday takes on the timely issue of how to end wars — with guests including Jim Jeffrey, the former U.S. ambassador to Iraq — because “a failure to effectively terminate a conflict will leave open the original issues that brought on the war and likely create the conditions for future conflict.”

Tuesday: The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense marks up that chamber’s version of the fiscal 2015 defense spending bill, while the panel’s House companion holds a closed hearing on the fiscal 2015 Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO — that is, war-related) budget request. The House Foreign Affairs Committee holds a hearing on the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL.

Also Tuesday, the Brookings Institution hosts Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos, and the Marines are the focus of a Center for Strategic and International Studies event entitled “Future Amphibious Connectors: Getting from Ship to Shore.” And Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., emcees “Killer Robots: Issues Surrounding the Development and Use of Fully Autonomous Lethal Weapons” in Cannon at 1 p.m.

The Senate Armed Services Committee teams up with the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Wednesday for a joint hearing on access to space, with testimony from principal deputy Defense undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics Alan Estevez and Air Force Gen. William Shelton, commander of the Air Force Space Command. The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hears from acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson to assess the state of VA health care. The House Armed Services panel holds an open hearing on the OCO budget request, with Defense Department No. 2 Robert Work and others.

Off the Hill Wednesday, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments talks about “Sustaining Strong Defense Posture in the Era of Austere Budgets,” featuring Rep. J. Randy Forbes, R-Va.

Thursday: The Senate’s defense spending bill takes its next step, with consideration before the full Appropriations Committee, while the Senate Armed Services Committee holds a nomination hearing for Gen. Joseph Dunford, Jr. as Marines Corps commandant. The House Budget Committee becomes the third panel for the week to hold a hearing on the OCO request, also with Work and others, while Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., speaks at CSIS at the second big event of the week on maintaining defense capabilities amid declining budgets.

Iran nuclear talks-related events are sprinkled throughout the week, but Thursday’s Bipartisan Policy Center/Foundation for Defense of Democracies/Foreign Policy Initiative forum features a number of influential lawmakers. The American Enterprise Institute hears from former assistant Veterans Affairs deputy secretary for policy Michael McLendon as part of a discussion about fixing the VA.

On Friday, the Bipartisan Policy Center and AEI join forces to talk military personnel costs.

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