It must drive open-government advocates and watchdogs nuts. Reporters often merely roll their eyes, shake their heads and check their watches at this annual competition.
The chairmen — and sometimes chairwomen — of the House Armed Services Committee’s six subpanels gavel in their public mark ups of their portions of the full committee’s version of the national defense authorization act with one goal: Gavel the session closed as quickly as possible. And this year’s mark up slate featured a potential record-setting session.
Some, like Strategic Forces subcommittee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., even joke at the top of their opening remarks about trying to break the HASC record for shortest subcommittee mark up.
Rogers made his quest for the record clear on Wednesday, and appeared on pace to enter HASC lore. And then Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez of California spoke up. The ensuing discussion about Sanchez’s amendment, which she’ll introduce June 5 when the full panel takes up its NDAA, to essentially kill the controversial Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) program ruined Rogers’ run at the record.
Then came Thursday’s Tactical Air and Land Forces subcommittee mark up. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, made no mention of the HASC record. Then he proceeded to make an impressive run at capturing the title.
Your Intercepts congressional reporter was doing other things while monitoring the mark up, and neglected to put Turner on a clock. But your correspondent’s unofficial observation was around three minutes. A HASC spokesman told Intercepts on Thursday he thought it was even faster than that. Turner’s spokesman, Thomas Crosson, weighed in later with impressive precision: “I believe it was 1:29.”
Pithy. Concise. Efficient. Fast. Transparent?
Sanchez, the ranking member of the Tactical Air and Land Forces subcommittee, raised her hands over her head and cheered Rogers’ potentially record-setting mark up.
This annual sideshow is entertaining enough. And Intercepts’ first instinct is to congratulate Turner. But, since all of this means the subpanels’ portions of the annual NDAA are crafted behind closed doors, perhaps your correspondent will withhold any virtual high-fives.
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