Executive and Legislative Branch Activity
Last week’s successful eleventh-hour Senate-led bipartisan proposal (H.R. 2775) to raise the debt ceiling (until February 7) and end the government shutdown, by essentially funding the federal government at FY 2013 numbers (through January 15), also included a provision to establish a budget conference committee to reconcile the differing top line numbers for the FY 2014 House and Senate appropriations bills. However, H.R. 2775 did not address sequestration. The budget conferees were named last week and will have to, among other things, reconcile how much national defense programs will receive, while keeping in mind the $498 billion cap in the Budget Control Act for FY 2014 and the FY 2013 limit of $518 billion. A report is expected by December 13.
The al Qaeda operative captured by U.S. special forces in Libya, Abu Anas al-Libi, plead not guilty last week to charges of helping plan the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa when he was arraigned in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-OK) voiced his disapproval of the Administration’s decision to use civilian courts and civilian prisons for captured terrorists. He instead advocates utilizing the military prison at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba for such detainees.
Last week, the State Department confirmed U.S. forces captured a senior Pakistan Taliban commander, Latif Mehsud. Afghan officials reported Mehsud was captured in eastern Afghanistan. The United States classifies Mehsud as a terrorist.
U.S. Export Control System
The White House released a fact sheet last week on changes to the U.S. Munitions List (USML) and the Commerce Control List (CCL) that pertain to controls on aircraft and gas turbine engines. The most sensitive items – such as bombers, fighters, unmanned aerial vehicles, and their key subsystems, parts, and components – remain on the USML, while less sensitive items – such as cockpit gauges, steel brake wear pads and fuel filters – are now subject to the more flexible authorities of the CCL. These changes were effective Tuesday, October 15.
The United States is reportedly nearing the end of negotiations with Afghanistan for a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). A SOFA would allow some U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan beyond 2014.
After announcing he would not seek re-election on October 9, House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee Chair C.W. “Bill” Young (R-FL) was hospitalized last week and passed away on Friday, October 18. Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott will have to set the date for a special election to fill Congressman Young’s seat.
The media reported last week that National Security Advisor (NSA) Director Army Gen. Keith Alexander is intending to resign early next year and NSA Deputy John Inglis is expected to retire later this year. This Thursday, the House Intelligence Committee is expected to hold a hearing on NSA programs.
This Week’s Hearings:
- Wednesday, October 23: The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces will hold a hearing titled “An Independent Assessment of the Navy’s 30 year Shipbuilding Plan.”
- Wednesday, October 23: The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces will hold a hearing titled “Impacts of a Continuing Resolution and Sequestration on Acquisition and Modernization.”
- Thursday, October 24: The House Intelligence Committee is slated to hold a hearing on NSA programs.