The Senate Armed Services Committee continues congressional oversight to gather information needed to inform the annual National Defense Authorization Act – in a transparent and open manner. The Department of Defense (DOD) shares this commitment, and we appreciate that DOD officials are willing to work with the committee on alternative hearing processes during this unprecedented time.
When the committee first laid out the concept of “paper hearings,” we understood that, being in uncharted territory, we would remain flexible and re-assess the process as conditions changed. DOD has rightfully focused on COVID-19 response, which means the Department has struggled to respond in a timely manner to the paper hearing questions for the Department of the Army posture hearing. Recognizing the additional burden on the Department of Defense at this critical time, Chairman Inhofe and Ranking Member Reed have agreed to postpone future paper hearings until the Committee has more clarity on the COVID-19 situation.
In light of this decision, the Department of Energy budget posture “paper hearing” scheduled for today is postponed. The issues associated with production of nuclear warheads remains central to modernization of the nuclear triad, and as such, the committee expects to address these critical questions in the future. Additionally, the committee still intends to post responses to Member questions for the Army posture hearing as soon as they are received by the Committee.
Chairman Inhofe remains committed to the committee’s goal of completing work on NDAA by the end of May, though he remains flexible because of the uncertainty associated with the coronavirus in the weeks ahead. Chairman Inhofe and Ranking Member Reed continue to work to reach this goal with transparency and accountability in mind. At this point, no decisions have been made, but as this crisis evolves, the committee will announce any changes to the anticipated markup schedule.
The timing or format for upcoming hearings are being discussed in the context of guidance from the CDC, Office of the Attending Physician, the Majority Leader, and local government.