The Senate Armed Services Committee’s future hearings will consist of written responses submitted to the committee within one week of the hearing date as lawmakers work to adhere to government recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While the committee is committed to continuing Congressional oversight and data collection necessary to drafting the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), to protect the health of everyone involved, traditional hearings are not possible under current conditions,” SASC said in a March 25 statement.
“In an effort to continue providing committee Members and the public with much-needed defense-related information, the committee has developed a process (‘Paper Hearings’) to execute oversight and collect data for the NDAA, while also mitigating health risks due to COVID-19,” it continued.
Starting with the March 26 Fiscal Year 2021 presidential budget request posture hearing for the Army, the committee will perform “paper hearings,” where all witness testimony as well as the SASC Chairman and Ranking Member opening statements will be publicly posted on the scheduled hearing date and time.
The committee will collect questions from all SASC members related to the topic which will then be transmitted to the Department of Defense at the date and time of the scheduled hearing. Those questions and the witnesses’ answers would then be posted within one week of posting opening statements; however, the committee “may exercise discretion and flexibility to ensure the Department of Defense is able to fulfill mission-critical duties, especially those related to COVID-19 response and national security.”
For the Army hearing Thursday, witness statements and statements from the committee leaders will be posted on the committee website at 9:30 a.m.
“When conditions allow for a return to traditional hearings, SASC will transition back to that preferred mode,” the committee said. “In addition, the committee is exploring other ways to continue these critical oversight functions.”
Defense Daily has reached out to other authorizing and appropriating committees for any other potential COVID-19-related hearing policies.