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The Defense Budget: Current Status and Core Issues

Defense officials are already busy making the obligatory annual rounds on Capitol Hill in support of the President’s preferred spending priorities. The current steady pace of congressional hearings might suggest that Congress is methodically working its way towards a timely passage of the defense budget. But this burst of activity on the


The End-of-Year Appropriations Crunch

Congress is back from its Thanksgiving recess only to face another round of demanding deadlines, the most pressing of which is averting a government shutdown once the current short-term continuing resolution (CR) expires on December 3.  All this within the whirlwind of other activities: the just-passed infrastructure bill, the ongoing Build Back Better


The Importance of the Congressional Calendar

Halfway through its first session, the 117th Congress finds itself in familiar territory, one that past Congresses know all too well. The crush of ambitious and unfinished legislative business is threatening to overwhelm Capitol Hill’s notoriously tricky and fickle schedule. Call it the tyranny of the congressional calendar. Here we’ll consider


Outlook for the NDAA in the 117th Congress

The 116th Congress wrapped up its final days in a dramatic fashion by delivering the first and only veto override of the Trump Administration on New Year’s Day. It was probably fitting and not terribly surprising that this strong bipartisan legislative rebuke


Hearings Oversight in a Time of Covid

At the end of season one of the popular HBO comedy series Veep, a panicked staffer from the Vice President’s office hurriedly solicits advice from a lawyer during a fundraising event. The staffer dreads being asked to testify before Congress because of his role in a series of hilariously incompetent crises. He urgently queries the


National Security Oversight: Still a Man’s World

Women’s representation has made significant gains in politics. Women are major contenders for the Presidency and are increasingly winning office at the national, state, and local levels. Women comprising a quarter of Congress may be small in an absolute sense, but it is truly historic. Yet within the legislative branch, that influence is not felt


In Search of Good Intelligence Oversight

After a moment of pomp and circumstance to accompany the swearing-in of the new Congress, the 116th Congress quickly pivoted to the less glamorous work of legislating. The most immediate concern for Democrats, who now control the House of Representatives, is to end a partial government shutdown that has dragged on for


National Security Confirmations: Politics Beyond the Water’s Edge

March 2018 marked a curious milestone for national security that may portend some unexpected clashes ahead for President Trump and congressional overseers.  New personnel selections have dredged up divisive political memories; while the choice of Mr. Bolton (for National Security Advisor) may draw more commentary, Gina Haspel (for CIA Director) will draw the oversight that


At the Water’s Edge: Is House Intelligence Oversight As Good As It Gets?

There is a common adage in national security and foreign policy debates that “partisan politics stop at the water’s edge.” This famous statement was first coined by the influential chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Sen. Arthur Vandenberg (R-MI) who, at the outset of the Cold War, overcame his political


Our Kind of War

How do we justify our military actions and what is Congress’s role? Legend has it that the late Congressman Charlie Wilson from Texas had managed to singlehandedly defeat the Soviet aggressors in Afghanistan in the 1980s by orchestrating an extraordinary covert operation that took ragged bands of fearless mujahedeen fighters to deliver a


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