Congressional Officials Worry Virus May Derail Defense Policy Bill

2021 NDAA was meant to begin discussion next month

Worldwide coronavirus outbreaks and calls to limit crowds and engage in social distancing are likely to be a hassle to the Congressional officials looking to pen the 2021 NDAA, according to spokespeople and committee leaders.

One of the biggest and most complicated bills of any given year, the hearings, slated to begin in April, routinely have 100 people or more in attendance. During the outbreak, that might simply not be possible, at least not in the traditional way.

Even a markup session for NDAA amendments usually has 50 lawmakers, as well as dozens of lobbyists looking on. The recommendation right now is to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people, and while that’s only temporary, there is no sign of the pandemic slowing in any real way in the next month.

The Senate seems less worried, with smaller panels and closed-door meetings. For the House, there may need to be a substantial rethink of how the gargantuan bill is marked up, with more focus on telecommuting and less huge rooms full of lobbyists plotting to get financially advantageous terms.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.