In an odd scheduling quirk, the secretary of defense will appear before before congressional committees four consecutive days this week. Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford is set to accompany him for each event, including an unusual 7 p.m. hearing Monday before the House Armed Services Committee, which has prompted jokes of “prime time Mattis” among Hill staffers.
The focus of each of the hearings is President Trump’s controversial $603 billion defense budget proposal, which would boost military funding but also bust spending caps put in place by Congress seven years ago.
But the flurry of activity has less to do with the specifics of the budget and more to do with the calendar.
Typically, lawmakers invite the defense secretary to testify on the annual budget proposal in April. This year, because of the administration turnover, the White House budget proposal didn’t arrive until late May, shifting the entire legislative timeline back.
Now, lawmakers are rushing to make progress on the fiscal 2018 budget debate before the planned congressional recess in August, and the end of the fiscal year in late September.
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