Tags: Fox | Weisgerber | Congress | bill

Journalists Fox and Weisgerber Preview Return of Congress

By    |   Tuesday, 14 April 2015 07:59 AM

National Journal's Lauren Fox appeared on C-SPAN's Washington Journal to talk about the agenda for the Republican Congress as it returns from a two-week spring recess.

She was interviewed by host Bill Scanlon, who began with an open-ended question based on Congress having "a lot to do." Fox responded that many legislators are eager to get involved in the debate over the administration's nuclear negotiations with Iran, which has given rise to "a lot of concern," and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by Bob Corker, R-Tenn., will discuss this week.

On the House side, she noted, the Leadership is awaiting Senate action on the Medicare "doc fix." Scanlon posted a Wall Street Journal article titled "Senate Wrangles Over Medicare Payments Fix," and he asked about the timeframe for a budget resolution for fiscal 2016. Fox noted that in last year's election Republicans ran on their ability to produce a reconciled budget, which Congress had been unable to do while Democrats controlled the Senate, so this is where Republicans can "prove that they can govern." She pointed to military spending as a "sticking point" in negotiations between the two houses of Congress, but ultimately this is "must pass" legislation.

The House is planning what Fox called "messaging bills" on taxes for this week, and Scanlon asked about the chances these bills will be taken up by the Senate. Fox mentioned a bill that would prohibit IRS employees from using personal email accounts to conduct official business, which is a reminder of the scandal several years ago involving IRS handling of tax exemptions of conservative groups, but it cannot pass the Senate without Democratic support, which is unlikely.

Scanlon followed up with a question on the status of the Benghazi committee's request to interview Hillary Clinton. Fox cautioned that the committee has to walk "a very fine line" so as not to overstep the bounds of its investigation and get into presidential politics.

Apropos of Fox's reference to Pentagon spending as a contentious issue between the two Republican bodies, Marcus Weisgerber, global business correspondent for Defense One, appeared on C-SPAN's Your Money segment to explain how the Defense Department has improved its procurement process in order to save money, the subject of a recent piece by Weisgerber titled "Pentagon: The Costs of Major Weapons Systems Are Finally Coming Down." Weisgerber said that the Pentagon "is being a lot more disciplined in the way they spend money." Moreover, the defense budget is declining.

Weisgerber displayed a model of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a stealth plane that is the most expensive Pentagon program ever, at $400 billion. According to Weisgerber, this is almost double the original estimate. It is designed to replace the F-16 and A-10 in the Air Force, the Harrier in the Marine Corps and the F-18 Hornet in the Navy. He broke down the total budget into $60 billion for R&D and the rest for 35 years of production. Whereas the costs have been "wildly over budget" during the past decade, the Pentagon says they are now "a lot more stable" because, as Weisgerber puts it, "they're just buying more planes." However, on the whole, the Defense Department is buying less, because two of the total of 80 programs are coming off the budget.

Scanlon brought up a report by Washington Business Journal that "cost creep continues to plague defense acquisition programs" and called the reported savings "not so great." Weisgerber attributed the discrepancies to differences in the accounting between the Government Accountability Office and the Defense Department.

(Archived video for Fox can be found here and for Weisgerber here.)

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National Journal's Lauren Fox appeared on C-SPAN's Washington Journal to talk about the agenda for the Republican Congress as it returns from a two-week spring recess.
Fox, Weisgerber, Congress, bill
Tuesday, 14 April 2015 07:59 AM
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