Legislative Activity

Lawmaker Predicts Bigger Pentagon Budget, Chance of BRAC Round

Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), believes that Congress will ultimately agree to fund the Department of Defense above the $603 billion requested by President Donald Trump for FY 2018, but not as high as some Republican would prefer.

Speaking at McAleese & Associates’ “Defense Programs Conference,” Rep. Smith stated, “My guess is it will go up a little bit, but nowhere near the numbers everyone’s talking about,” adding, “I think what we need is a national security strategy.”

Rep. Smith also predicted that there is a greater chance that Congress will authorize a new round of base closures if President Trump seeks one in his budget proposal, explaining that it “all comes down to the president…If he says he wants it…with where Sen. McCain is at and with where I’m at then I think we’re over a 50-50 possibility.”

Lawmakers Warn Full Year CR Would Disrupt Military Training

On March 22, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) warned that stop-gap funding for the remainder of FY 2017 could risk major disruptions in Army and Marine Corps operations, speaking to reporters alongside Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-AZ).

Chairman Thornberry said that his committee has asked the military services to outline the consequences of prolonged funding under a Continuing Resolution. “We haven’t heard from everybody yet, but if there’s a CR, all but one deploying Army unit will cease training after July 15. And that includes units scheduled to deploy to Korea and Europe,” the lawmaker shared, adding, “[t]he Marine Corps will cease all flight operations in July and have to get rid of over 2,000 Marines.”

The current Continuing Resolution expires on April 28.  Chairman Thornberry argued that Congress needs to pass a full-year defense appropriations bill to round out FY 2017, together with a $30 billion supplemental funding measure released by the Pentagon last week.

Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson echoed Rep. Thornberry’s statements at the McAleese & Associates conference, explaining that without long-term funding, the Air Force would have to shut down supply depots, cease hiring, and delay 60 new-start programs. Gen. Wilson explained that the current Air Force is the “smallest, the oldest and the least ready” in the service’s history.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • On Tuesday, March 28, the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces has scheduled a hearing titled “Naval Strike Fighters – Issues and Concerns.”
  • On Tuesday, March 28, the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection has scheduled a hearing titled “The Current State of DHS’ Efforts to Secure Federal Networks.”
  • On Tuesday, March 28, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security has scheduled a hearing titled “Restoring Enforcement of our Nation’s Immigration Laws.”
  • On Wednesday, March 29, the Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management has scheduled hearing titled “The Effect of Borrowing on Federal Spending.”
  • On Wednesday, March 29, the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support has scheduled a hearing titled “Health of the Department of Defense Industrial Base and its Role in Providing Readiness to the Warfighter.”
  • On Wednesday, March 29, the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Airland has scheduled a hearing titled “Air Force Modernization.”
  • On Wednesday, March 29, the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence has scheduled a hearing titled “Terrorism in North Africa: An Examination of the Threat.”
  • On Wednesday, March 29, the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications and House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces have scheduled a joint hearing titled “Threats to Space Assets and Implications for Homeland Security.”
  • On Wednesday, March 29, the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel has scheduled a hearing titled “Military Pilot Shortage.”
  • On Thursday, March 30, the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness has scheduled a hearing titled “The Current State of U.S. Transportation Command.”

Executive Branch Activity

Trump Administration Releases Report on Compliance with Detention Requests

On Monday, March 20, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released the first “Weekly Declined Detainer Outcome Report,” which displays data on local jurisdictions who are considered by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) not to be complying with ICE-issued detainer requests for undocumented immigrants.

The report, which will be issued weekly, was directed by President Trump’s January 27 executive order titled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” (Executive Order 13768). Executive Order 13768 directed the DHS Secretary to “better inform the public regarding the public safety threats associated with sanctuary jurisdictions” by publishing a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by undocumented immigrants and jurisdictions who ignored or otherwise failed to honor ICE detainer requests

The report contains data from a total of 3,083 detainer requests issued throughout the United States between January 28 and February 3, 2017. The jurisdictions identified by ICE as among the top ten least compliant with detainer requests accounted for a total of 157 declinations. The report also identifies the crime for which an undocumented immigrant was charged or convicted, and the date on which each jurisdiction declined to comply with the ICE detainer request for that individual. Crimes range in severity from traffic offenses and driving under the influence to arson, possession of dangerous drugs, homicide, sex-offenses against children, and kidnapping. The report also identifies jurisdictions with policies believed to limit local cooperation with ICE.

Also on Monday, DHS’ Office for Partnership and Engagement held a conference call to discuss the report with local government representatives, which featured Mr. Matthew Albence, Executive Associate Director, Enforcement and Removal Operations, ICE.

Mr. Albence argued that DHS attempted to ensure the data used in the report was as accurate as possible. He stressed that compliance with ICE detainer requests is essential for public safety, arguing that allowing ICE to make arrests inside local jail facilities increases the safety of ICE officers and the public. He expressed hope that the report would foster additional support from jurisdictions that are “not as supportive as ICE would like” and lauded local jurisdictions that have amended policies to better cooperate with the agency. He stressed the critical importance of local government cooperation with ICE in successfully identifying and arresting dangerous undocumented immigrants.

On the call, Mr. Albence explained that the report encompasses all forms used by ICE in relation to detainer requests and requests for notification, including instances in which local governments do not notify ICE with adequate time to allow the retrieval of an undocumented immigrant before release.

Several local jurisdictions expressed their belief that they were inaccurately identified by ICE as non-compliant and stressed that ICE must do a better job of engaging local jurisdictions to hear their perspectives before determining them to be uncooperative. Mr. Albence stated that ICE collects information from various sources and wants to ensure all reported information is accurate. He explained that local governments who feel information has been inaccurately reported should connect with ICE community relations offices and ICE field office directors.

Call participants were also informed that this list is not related to forthcoming list of sanctuary jurisdictions. DHS representatives noted that the Department was currently finalizing an official definition for “sanctuary jurisdictions” that would be made available to the public.

President Trump Names Senior Homeland Security Officials

This week, President Trump nominated the following individuals to serve in senior roles at DHS:

  • David J. Glawe of Iowa to be Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis at the Department of Homeland Security.   Mr. Glawe is a career member of the Senior Executive Service and currently serves as the Assistant Commissioner at U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Intelligence.
  • Benjamin Cassidy of Massachusetts to serve as Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs for the Department of Homeland Security. Mr. Cassidy serves as Special Counsel to the Secretary of Homeland Security in the Department’s Office of Legislative Affairs.
  • Jonathan Rath Hoffman of South Carolina to serve as Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs for the Department of Homeland Security.  He recently served as the South Carolina Executive Director for the national security non-profit Americans for Peace, Prosperity, and Security.