Understanding the Congressional Legislative Process

Providing for a Common Defense

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The Pentagon by David B. Gleason on Flickr

Program Description

How does Congress provide annual authorizations and appropriations for national security programs?  How is a national security strategy translated into resources and priorities for over $500 billion of government spending each year?  How is the President’s budget request assessed and used to develop legislation?   What responsibilities do Congressional staff  have on a daily basis?  What are the major legislative events for a military program and what do I need to look for?  When and where are the opportunities to influence the process?

Despite years of increased transparency, accessibility, and accountability, the process used by congressional defense committees to develop and pass an annual budget as well as providing oversight on military programs remains a mystery wrapped in an enigma. This mystery is even more clouded in the age of government dis-function, the breakdown of regular order, the normalcy of Continuing Resolutions, and the increasing complexity of parliamentary procedures. This is a frustrating realization for anyone who is required to track congressional actions or who has a stake in a legislative outcome.

Rapidly changing global events and an expanding range of threats to U.S. national interests requires those responsible, in both government and industry, who are aware of the legislative process and can ensure that the congressional defense committees have accurate and complete information during deliberations. The national dialogue represented by hearings, mark-ups, floor consideration, debates, and conference reports must be enhanced by the ability to deliver and receive information on military programs and services in real time. This can only be accomplished through an education of the process.

Attendees at this tailored Capitol Hill Workshop will have the opportunity to discuss the legislative process in an off-the-record setting, with a group of nationally recognized speakers with specific experience working on, or with congressional defense committees. The curriculum will be presented in order of the major legislative events in an annual cycle and will focus on the opportunities to influence the process



  •  Providing for a Common Understanding –  Basic Terms and Principles
  • Threat Assessments – Determining the Priorities for our National Security
  • Assessing the President’s Budget – The First Steps in Translating Strategy into Resources
  • The View from the Witness Table – What to Expect from a Congressional Hearing
  • The Road to Developing a  Bill – How the Committees Prepare for Mark-Up
  •  Mark-Up – Putting Ideas into Policy
  • The Floor – What Can and Cannot be Done
  •  Conference – When the House and Senate Finally Meet
  • Addressing the Interests of the Members of Congress The Role of the Military Legislative Assistant
  • Congressional Oversight – How is it Accomplished?
  • Congressional Appropriations – Putting the Funds to the Policy
  • Looking in as an Interested Party – The Industry Perspective
  • National Defense Budgets in an Age of Austerity: Spending and the Debt Limit
  • Congressional Leadership and National Interests: A Member’s Perspective
  • Lobbying Congress: Money and Politics
  •  Keystone Event for Seminar Participants– Two Hour Mock Mark-Up of Program X


Leadership Competencies

After participating in the Capitol Hill Workshop, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify the key milestones and decision makers who are involved in the legislative process and the institutional perspectives from which they offer advice and make judgments;
  2. Understand the roles and responsibilities of each of the stakeholders in the executive and legislative branches as well as the private sector, in the development of annual legislation
  3. Think strategically and tactically about how to affect policy-making and policy implementation, how to avoid unintended consequences that flow from poor policy judgments;
  4. Enhance critical synthetic and analytical skills necessary to advise senior officials in the development and assessment of legislative actions
  5. Be more aware of the changing situational conditions that affect past, current and future legislation


*Providing for a Common Defense: Understanding the Congressional Legislative Process is designed and tailored to meet the specific needs of your organization.  The program can be conducted on Capitol Hill, specific military bases, or at corporate headquarters/ offices.  Depending on the level of information required, the length of the program can vary from one day, two days or two and one-half days.


Note:  The two and one-half day program will feature informal tours of the Capitol Hill, the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress, subject to scheduling availability.


Program Instructor

LUCIAN L. NIEMEYER recently retired from the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee.  He is President of the Niemeyer Group, offering business development strategies and consulting expertise on national defense issues. His 11-year tenure as a Senate Staff Member for numerous Senators established his reputation as the national expert on a range of military programs. Recognizing his expertise in the legislative process, Mr. Niemeyer was assigned the responsibility of serving as the Ranking Member’s representative for the review and adoption of hundreds of amendments during Senate floor consideration of the annual National Defense Authorization Act.  From 2003 through 2008, he served Sen. John Warner on military installation programs, most notably providing oversight of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), local community support programs, global basing issues and privatization programs for military housing, utilities, and land management. During his entire time on the committee, he developed solutions through innovative legislation and budget decisions to address DOD and community concerns with property disposal from BRACs.  From 2008 to 2012, he was asked by Sen. John McCain to assume additional responsibilities for the review of overall defense budgets and appropriations, federal energy programs, industrial base issues including depot policy, and Air Force acquisition programs.

During this time, he spearheaded Sen. McCain’s priorities for responsible government spending and increased scrutiny of major acquisition activities.  In 2012, Sen. James Inhofe assigned additional responsibilities for defense environmental programs and oversight of the Navy’s acquisition and shipbuilding programs.  Starting in 2008, he also served as the lead staff member for the Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee focusing attention on installation management and the impact of declining defense budgets on the preparedness of the Nation’s armed forces. Mr. Niemeyer is a retired Air Force officer with 15 years’ active service and 5 years in the Air National Guard. He has a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Notre Dame, an MBA from George Washington University, and a Master of National Security and Strategic Studies (HD), 2002 College of Naval Command and Staff, Naval War College, Newport, RI



Please contact Alan L. Freed Associates at 703-684-8807 regarding fee structure.


Format is terrific! Lots of speakers from across government enterprise and no power points. Plenty of time for engaging dialogue. I love to hear what experts and insiders have to say about out WDC enterprise.

J. Haywood, Wright Patterson Air Force Base

Really Outstanding, will highly recommend to others. Highly professional, thoughtful and experienced classmates greatly added to my positive experience in this class.

W. Smith, Pentagon

Speakers bring a refreshing perspective on government/politics and social economics (U.S and foreign). Great Insight to happenings on the Hill, Pentagon and White House.

J. Falbo, Navy

Truly outstanding insight/superior historical background and great stories born throughout scars of experience; I attended National War College and they are known for great speakers/first-hand experience - yours were better. Huge thanks; extremely well done!

M. Weaver, Wright Patterson Airforce Base

This is the best and most informative array of speakers I have ever had the pleasure to hear!

K. Buckley, Air Force