Welcome to the December edition of A Capitol View. SMI would like to wish you all Happy Holidays and a wonderful New Year! This edition includes updates on the SMI team, vaccine mandates for defense contractors, and the passage of the FY22 NDAA.
Meet SMI’s Newest Team Member, Kaycee Beardeaux!
Kaycee Beardeaux joined our team as an Analyst last month.
Kaycee graduated from George Washington University in May with a B.A. in International Affairs and specializations in Conflict Resolution and the Arabic language. Kaycee recently worked with several government entities, private firms, and non-governmental organizations on a wide range of domestic and foreign policy issues since 2017.
Prior to joining SMI, Kaycee interned for Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), where she conducted legislative research for the national security and appropriations teams. Kaycee also worked as a Research Assistant and Translator for the George Washington University’s Department of Defense Foreign Area Officer Regional Sustainment Initiative, where she supported the development of linguistic and political curricula relating to Middle Eastern foreign policy. In addition, she interned with the National Council on U.S. – Arab relations, the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women, and the strategic communications firm STG Results.
Kaycee is from Honolulu and enjoys skateboarding and spending time with her adorable puppy, Bobo. She looks forward to supporting SMI’s clients through her tracking of the appropriations process and knowledge of national security policy.
Jeff Leahey Headlines the U.S. Society of Dams Webinar on Bipartisan Infrastructure Hydropower Funding Programs
SMI’s Jeff Leahey was the featured speaker on a December 13 webinar for the United States Society of Dams (USSD) providing an overview and analysis of hydropower incentives, dam safety, and dam removal funding adopted as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the bipartisan infrastructure bill signed into law in November. The interactive webinar provided participants with the opportunity to learn more about changes to existing programs, newly established programs, and to discuss implementation questions. The USSD is the preeminent society in the U.S. for professionals involved with all aspects of dams and levees, including engineering, construction and rehabilitation, operation and maintenance, and safety.
To learn more, you may contact Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bill McCann Speaks at the National War College
On December 14, SMI’s President and CEO, Bill McCann, had the honor of speaking to the National War College (NWC) class of 2022 about lobbying’s role in national security. The NWC, located at Fort McNair in Washington, DC, is the third-oldest active Army post and for 10 months out of the year, hosts mid-and senior-level military officers selected to study at the War College in preparation for higher staff and command positions. NWC’s class of 2022 consists of 200 government employees that are pursuing a Master of Arts in National Security Strategy. All students have 18 to 22 years of military experience with roughly 120 students from the U.S. military, 20 from the State Department, and 35 foreign military officers.
Bill’s presentation set out to give an overview of lobbying and contemplate some of the questions that follow lobbyists, government officials, and scholars alike. Notably, to what extent is lobbying consistent with American cultural traditions? Are some citizens or groups represented more than others because of lobbying? Is that desirable? To what extent does lobbying distort the policy process away from “pure” strategic considerations? Bill’s presentation and candidness contributed to a healthy discourse on the interconnectedness between lobbying and the federal government.
According to Bill, “It was an incredible honor to speak to at the National War College. The students are the future leaders of our Armed Forces and State Department. I particularly enjoyed the question-and-answer portion of the lecture. So much of what we do at SMI is directed at providing our Armed Services with the best technology and equipment. It was great to shed some light on how industry tries to support their mission.”
Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act Signed into Law
On December 27, President Biden signed the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law, authorizing nearly $770 billion in defense spending after it passed the House by a margin of 363-70 and the Senate by a margin of 88-11. Unlike the annual appropriations bill, this bill authorizes appropriations and sets defense policy. Below are several key provisions included in the legislation.
The bill overhauled the previous policy regarding how the military justice system reviews sexual harassment and assault cases after mounting criticism over the past few years for misconduct and malpractice.
It also includes a 2.7 percent pay increase for military service members and Department of Defense (DoD) civilian employees, the establishment of a “multi-year independent Afghan War Commission,” and $300 million in military aid to Ukraine.
President Biden shared some concerns with the legislation, outlining that his administration opposes portions of Section 1032 that extend the prohibition on the use of funds to transfer or release Guantanamo Bay detainees. He wrote that it may produce an undue burden on the administration when considering the potential release of detainees, especially when they could be the subject of delicate diplomatic efforts. In addition, the President is firmly against open-air burn pits as he believes they can cause severe illness and that they had a direct impact on his son’s death from cancer in 2015. Lastly, he expressed further concern about disclosing too much intelligence information in recurring executive reports to Congress due to the sensitivity of the information.
Regardless, he signed the bill after notifying Congress of his thoughts. It is important to note that the bill does not repeal the 2002 Authorization of the Use of Military Force (AUMF) that gives the president wide-ranging authority regarding the use of military force. Many policy analysts believed this was likely to be included in the final version but ended up not making the cut.
Congress must still pass a defense appropriations bill prior to the expiration of the current continuing resolution on February 18.
Legal Challenges to Vaccine Mandates for Federal Contractors
On December 7, a federal judge issued a nationwide block in response to President Joe Biden’s executive order requiring federal contractors and subcontractors to be fully vaccinated by January 18.
This was in response to lawsuits from several contractors and seven states-— Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, South Carolina, Utah, and West Virginia. Judge R. Stan Baker, the U.S. District Court Judge that halted the order, stated that “even in times of crisis this Court must preserve the rule of law and ensure that all branches of government act within the bounds of their constitutionally granted authorities.”
The block came as top contractors notably, Leidos, Google, Boeing, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin, were already implementing vaccine mandates. Now contractors are left with the option to maintain or suspend their vaccine mandates. As of this month, only Raytheon and Leidos have publicly stated that they will keep their employee vaccine mandate.