By AUSTIN WRIGHT
Four Senate Armed Services subcommittees will hold open markups this year for the annual National Defense Authorization Act, up from three last year.
Two subcommittee markups — and the full-committee markup — will remain closed.
Government watchdog groups have long urged the committee to open up its markup process, with the Project On Government Oversight and other groups launching a campaign two years ago called Open NDAA.
But the committee chairman, Sen.Carl Levin, says the closed process is necessary for logistical reasons.
“Classified issues are discussed in the course of our markups, and time-consuming security procedures preclude us from going back and forth from open session to closed session whenever such an issue is raised,” the Michigan Democrat said in a January letter.
Still, POGO’s director of public policy, Angela Canterbury, says she hopes Levin will change his mind.
“We are still garnering support from partner organizations, but already we have a strikingly diverse coalition that agrees it’s time to shine more light on the NDAA,” she said.
And, she said, Levin’s decision not to seek reelection this fall added new urgency to the effort. “We hope to convince him to make his legacy one of openness,” she said. “The public needs more opportunities to participate in crafting this critical bill.”
The leaders of six subcommittees decide for themselves each year whether to open their panels’ NDAA markups to the public.
The seapower and strategic forces markups were closed last year and will remain closed this year, according to a schedule released by the committee Wednesday. The airland, readiness and personnel markups were open last year and will remain open this year.
But the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, chaired by Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), was closed last year and will be open this year, according to the schedule. “After chairing the ETC subcommittee markup for three years, Senator Hagan has concluded that the subcommittee’s markup can be conducted in open session without compromising sensitive information,” said a Hagan aide.
The full committee will hold its markup May 21 through May 23.
The House Armed Services Committee holds its NDAA markups in open sessions.