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This week in Congress: Filling the Pentagon’s vacancies

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Senate leaders hope to move ahead on putting several new military leaders in place before lawmakers head home for their August break.

This week, the chamber is expected to confirm Army Secretary Mark Esper as the new Defense Secretary and Gen. Mark Milley as the new Joint Chiefs Chairman. The Senate Armed Services Committee will also hold a hearing on the nomination of David Norquist to be Esper’s top deputy, with an eye towards holding that vote next week.

House lawmakers are scheduled to leave town for the rest of the summer this Friday, and the Senate expected to break a week later. Getting those top defense officials in place could provide some stability in the Pentagon, where military officials have waited more than 200 days for a permanent replacement to former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

Leaders from both chambers are also expected this week to make a push for an overarching budget deal for fiscal 2020, an agreement which would prevent a potential partial government shutdown when lawmakers return to Washington, D.C. in September.

Tuesday, July 23

Senate Foreign Relations — 10 a.m. — Capitol S116
Nominations
The committee will review several pending bills and nominations, including Kelly Craft to be the new U.S. representative to the United Nations.

House Veterans’ Affairs — 5 p.m. — Visitors Center H210
VA Whistleblowers
Department staff will testify on efforts to respond to staff whistleblower complaints.

Wednesday, July 24

House Veterans’ Affairs — 10 a.m. — Visitors Center H210
VA wait times
Department staff will testify on current wait times at VA hospitals and efforts to improve them.

Senate Armed Services — 10 a.m. — Dirksen G-50
Nominations
The committee will consider the nomination of David Norquist to be Deputy Defense Secretary.

Senate Foreign Relations — 2:30 p.m. — Dirksen 419
Military force authorizations
State Department officials will testify on potential changes to current authorities for use of military force overseas.

House Foreign Affairs — 2 p.m. — Rayburn 2172
Counterterrorism budget
State Department officials will testify on their proposed counterterrorism spending plans for fiscal 2020.

Senate Foreign Relations — 2:30 p.m. — Dirksen 419
Ebola
State Department officials will testify on the current outbreak of Ebola in Africa.

Thursday, July 25

House Foreign Affairs — 10 a.m. — Rayburn 2172
Human rights
Outside experts will testify on human rights abuses in southeast Asia.

House Veterans’ Affairs — 10 a.m. — Visitors Center H210
Health records modernization
Department staff will provide an update on efforts to shift existing health records to new systems.

House Foreign Affairs — 2 p.m. — Rayburn 2172
Russia
Outside experts will testify on current threats posed by Russia.





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