Executive and Legislative Branch Activity
National Security Agency (NSA)
On January 17, President Obama announced a series of changes to the NSA surveillance programs that have sparked controversy around the world since they were revealed by Edward Snowden’s leaks. Congress is expected to legislatively weigh-in on the NSA debate. It remains unclear what action Congress may take or the timing of any action. A key date to keep in mind is June 2015, when provisions of the Patriot Act that authorize the phone data collection are set to expire.
The media reported a federal contractor – United States Investigations Service (USIS) –may have not been as diligent in its background investigations that are used to grant security clearances. The USIS was responsible for clearing NSA leaker Edward Snowden and the Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis. The increased media coverage may reignite the debate in Congress on legislatively reforming the security clearance process.
On January 16, House Armed Services Committee Chair Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) announced he is retiring and will not run for re-election this November. Last week, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) – a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee – announced he will run for governor. Louisiana’s next gubernational election is in November 2015. If he should win, Senator Vitter will depart the Senate before his seat is up for election in 2016.
While statutorily due the first Monday of February, President Barack Obama is expected to release his budget request for FY 2015 on March 4. The delay is due in large part to the late work on FY 2014 appropriations that culminated in an Omnibus bill (H.R. 3547) passed by Congress before the recess.
This Week’s Hearings:
- Tuesday, January 28: The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces and Seapower and Projection Forces will hold a joint hearing on the People’s Republic of China’s Counterspace Program and the Implications for U.S. National Security.
- Tuesday, January 28: The House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing titled, “Joint Hearing on the People’s Republic of China’s Counterspace Program and the Implications for U.S. National Security.”
- Tuesday, January 28: The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing titled, “Recent Changes to the U.S. Military Retirement System.”
- Wednesday, January 29: The House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled, “Religious Accommodations in the Armed Services.”