The leaders of the House Armed Services Committee announced Friday they have formally begun the process of creating the annual defense policy bill and have introduced a “by request” version of the legislation.
Panel Chairman Rep. Adam Smith, Washington Democrat, and ranking member Mac Thornberry, Texas Republican, have repeatedly insisted the crafting process of the massive National Defense Authorization Act would not be sidelined despite having most of Congress’ focus on the spread of the coronavirus outbreak across the country.
“As the nation grapples with the COVID-19 crisis, the Committee continues to adhere to the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Sergeant at Arms, and the House Attending Physician,” Mr. Smith and Mr. Thornberry said in a statement.
The procedural move — which outlines requests from the Pentagon and will later be replaced with formal language — marks the starting point for the committee to formulate the must-pass legislation that effectively dictates the administration’s defense policy for the upcoming year.
The panel is expected to consider the bill next month with a full House vote in May. But increased attention on coronavirus-related legislation, paired with heightened precautions that are being taken on Capitol Hill to prevent the spread among lawmakers, could force a delay.
“During this time of uncertainty, the Committee remains focused on completing the FY21 NDAA and performing rigorous oversight through formal communications and teleconferences,” the members said, “which can and will be accomplished while protecting the health of our members and staff.”
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