Welcome to the August edition of A Capitol View. We continue to update you on the infrastructure and reconciliation bill, defense confirmations, and the annual defense authorization bill as well as updates from the SMI team.

Update: Pelosi Compromises with Moderate Dems on Infrastructure and Reconciliation Bill Timelines

House Speaker Pelosi has announced she will write a budget reconciliation bill with Senate Democrats for a unified Democratic front. This comes after she came to a compromise with moderate Democrats who demanded that the House pass its first infrastructure bill before moving through the budget process.

The budget reconciliation bill is intended to fund initiatives that primarily were not included in the bipartisan Senate infrastructure bill. Senate negotiators have made a deal with President Biden that the reconciliation bill would largely not include infrastructure. More progressive Democrats, however, would like to see infrastructure projects such as certain climate change priorities included in reconciliation.

Pelosi’s deal with moderate Democrats means that she has committed to voting on the bipartisan infrastructure bill no later than September 27.

SMI Attends Space and Missile Defense Symposium

On August 10, SMI’s Ken Wetzel, COO, and Aarzu Maknojia, Associate, attended the Space and Missile Defense Symposium in Huntsville, AL. Its focus is to hear directly from senior leaders in the leading government and industry organizations for space and missile defense including the Missile Defense Agency, NASA, PEO Missiles and Space, and more.

Presentations provided information and discussion regarding Department of Defense priorities, strategies for defeating near-peer adversaries, changes in acquisition rules and policies, and technology-specific programs such as radars, sensors, and computational methods for hypersonic and counter-hypersonic systems.

SMI makes an effort to attend industry conferences and symposiums in order to stay abreast of new developments, develop our networks, and identify opportunities for our clients.

SMI Vice President Jeff Leahey Moderates Panels on Alaska Hydropower

SMI Vice President Jeff Leahey moderated two panels this August that focused on the future of hydropower.

On August 16, for the National Hydropower Association Alaska Regional Meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, he moderated a panel titled “A Deep Dive into Federal Licensing & Regulatory Reform: What does this mean for Alaska?” He followed that up moderating a panel on August 20 titled “The Future of Hydropower in Alaska” for the Alaska Power Association’s Annual Meeting in Homer, Alaska.

Leahey’s expertise in hydropower comes from decades of serving the industry. He came to SMI from the National Hydropower Association, where he led the organization’s legislative, regulatory, and legacy policy work to advance hydropower, pumped storage, and marine energy industries.

If you are interested in reaching out to him, you can contact him at jeff@strategicmi.com.

Update: House NDAA Full Committee Markup This Week

The House Armed Services Committee’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) full committee bill authorizes $716 billion for the Pentagon, a little over a billion more than President Biden’s $715 billion budget request. The committee’s markup is scheduled for this week.

The topline number may turn into a debate between members who back the President’s lower request and growing bipartisan support for increasing defense spending by up to $25 billion more.

Some differences between the President’s budget and the current version of the House bill include:

  • Cutting $3.3 billion for Afghanistan’s security forces.
  • Increased Air Force funding to buy an additional 12 Boeing F-15EX fighters.
  • $1 billion for Navy to buy Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet jets.
  • Extra $250 million for 3 Bell-Boeing V-22 tiltrotor aircraft and $340 million for 2 more Boeing Navy P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance planes.
  • One extra destroyer for the Navy and $300 million for first of new class of submarines.
  • Transparency with contracts using “other transaction authority.”
  • Over 60 earmark requests by lawmakers for community projects for military construction and research and development.

Update: Biden Defense Nominees Continue to be Confirmed

To date, 21 individuals have been confirmed to politically appointed positions in the Department of Defense. Another 12 civilian nominees have been named and are awaiting confirmation hearings.

Below is a list of civilian nominees that have been confirmed in August.

  • Kathleen Miller, Defense Department Deputy Comptroller: Aug. 5
  • Christopher Maier, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict: Aug. 7
  • Carlos Del Toro, Secretary of the Navy: Aug. 7
  • Mara Karlin, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans and Capabilities: Aug. 9
  • Caral Spangler, Army Comptroller: Aug. 9
  • Gil Cisneros, Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness: Aug. 11

Below is a list of nominees that are awaiting a Senate confirmation hearing.

  • Celeste Wallander, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs
  • Brenda Sue Fulton, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs
  • Rachel Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations and Environment
  • Gabe Camarillo, Undersecretary of the Army
  • Andrew Hunter, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics
  • John Plumb, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy
  • Corey Hinderstein, Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation of the National Nuclear Security Administration
  • Alex Wagner, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs
  • David Honey, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering
  • Melissa Dalton, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security Affairs
  • Sasha Baker, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy