Lawmakers Typically Swarm to Microphones. But Not During AFA Conference.

Members of Congress typically flock to the mics to spout political party talking points and lobby for their home districts and states. But not this week at one major defense conference. (Photo: John T. Bennett/Defense News)

Attendees at this year’s Air Force Association-sponsored conference outside Washington have heard from generals, analysts and even a few colonels.

But there was one inside-the-Beltway faction from which attendees did not hear as they enjoyed the majestic Potomac River views in National Harbor, Md.: Members of Congress.

There were no House or Senate Armed Services Committee members on the agenda, nor an Appropriations Committee leader to provide that so-often titled on defense conference agendas “View From Capitol Hill.”

Intercepts has asked AFA why no members addressed the conference. We’ll update you when we hear from the association’s spokespersons.

But the lack of a “View From Capitol Hill” is notable. Especially since there is so much uncertainty within the Pentagon and defense sector about the future of US military budgets — and whether lawmakers can “fix” sequestration.

That’s not to mention members’ views on a myriad policy and programmatic issues for which Pentagon and industry officials clamor. After all, one of the best-attended sessions last week at an Intelligence and National Security Alliance-sponsored conference in Washington featured Reps. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., and Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., the chairman and ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

It’s also notable considering the Air Force, as reported by Defense News, had floated the idea of terminating its KC-10 aerial tanker and A-10 attack plane fleets, along with F-15C fighter jets and one of its longtime acquisition priorities: a nearly $7 billion program to develop and field a new combat search-and-rescue (CSAR) helicopter fleet.

The three aircraft fleets mean jobs in congressional districts across the nation. And the CSAR program would bring many more to multiple parts of the country at a time when America can use every new job it can create.

Then again, perhaps it really is better to beg forgiveness than ask permission.

John T. Bennett

John T. Bennett

Bennett is the Editor of Defense News' CongressWatch channel. He has a Masters degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
John T. Bennett