Negotiated FY2021 Appropriations Bills Passed and Signed

The FY21 appropriations bills were passed by both chambers on December 27 and signed by President Trump. Included below is a breakdown of the top line numbers of the various appropriations bills.

Looking Forward to FY2022

The appropriations process on Capitol Hill may be considered a year-long—and sometimes longer — process. As the FY2021 omnibus government spending bill was passed in late December, SMI sets its eyes forward onto the FY2022 process.

The process begins in full force once the President of the United States submits a budget request to Congress, often during the first week of February. Changes in administration often delay this process, however, and we can likely expect President Biden to release his budget at a slightly later time. As of now, we are also waiting on the final constitution of committees for the 117th Congress.

Following the budget release, House and Senate Budget Committees are then directed to report budget resolutions that specify funding levels for the House and Senate Appropriations Committees as well as their 12 subcommittees. The House and Senate Appropriation Committees are then tasked with drafting appropriations bills. During this time, the committees solicit guidance from Members of Congress whose staff may consult with constituents. This year, we can expect these meetings to be virtual. Considering this timeline, congressional offices may begin accepting appropriations requests for consideration from constituents in early 2021. Deadlines for these requests vary by office and can be anywhere from early February to mid-April.

After the House and Senate passes their respective appropriations bills, a conference committee will typically iron out the differences for the final bills, which are then sent to the President to sign. If this is not done by the beginning of the fiscal year on October 1, 2021, the government may shut down unless Congress passes a continuing resolution (CR) to extend funding, as they did during the FY2021 process.

President Biden’s American Rescue Plan
On January 14, Biden revealed a massive $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal billed the American Rescue Plan for continued economic relief during the coronavirus pandemic following the original $3 trillion CARES Act passed in March 2020 and $900 billion COVID-relief supplemental passed in late December.

This plan includes: additional $1400 individual stimulus checks; a boost in federal unemployment aid to $400/week; more rental assistance; an extended eviction moratorium; increased funding for food stamp benefits and child care; restoration of emergency paid leave; more financial assistance to businesses, states, and schools; and increased support for vaccines and testing.

President Biden has indicated he is open to negotiation on the package, and would prefer it to be bipartisan, but that time is of the essence.

The Case for Semiconductor Investment in the United States

by: Ken Wetzel

Microelectronics enable many of our most critical national defense capabilities, including artificial intelligence, unmanned vehicles, aircrafts, and space systems. As the Department of Defense, civilian government agencies, and Congress refine their strategy to support the domestic industrial base for microelectronics, it is important to incentivize companies so they can justify keeping their businesses focused on the defense market, resisting the allure of foreign incentives, and serving as a merchant supplier to ensure the best available chips on the market are available to the warfighter.

An increasing number of consumer products, particularly those considered to be in the internet-of-things category, require microelectronics. Those utilized by our nation’s warfighter are often even more sophisticated than commercial parts to include key attributes. Maintaining a healthy U.S. industrial base is only one of the benefits of this additional investment. Security is a growing concern, not only in defense systems, but in the financial, medical, and automotive markets. At all stages of the Integrated Circuit lifecycle, there are a number of threats that compromise the integrity of the design through piracy, reverse engineering, hardware Trojan insertion, physical attacks, and many other threats.

In response to this threat, DoD leaders in the Trump Administration prioritized the research and development of microelectronics. The Biden-Harris Administration should build on the DoD’s commitment to develop advanced microelectronics by not only continuing to increase funding into R&D, but also by providing incentives for businesses to keep manufacturing facilities within the United States. Read more here.

Biden’s First Days in Office
In his first hours in office on January 21, President Biden hit the ground running, signing over a dozen executive orders. A running list on some of the executive orders and proclamations Biden has signed since becoming President include:

  • Rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement
  • Proclamation ending the Muslim travel ban
  • Requiring masks on federal property
  • Creating the position of Covid-19 response coordinator
  • Revising immigration enforcement policies
  • Cancelling Keystone XL permit
  • Banning discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation
  • Terminating funding of a southern border wall
  • Mandating masks on public transportation
  • Executive orders on Covid-19 response, including research into expanding access, promoting data-driven response, assessing public health supply chain, supporting the re-opening of schools, promoting workplace safety, establishing a testing board, reinstating travel restrictions
  • Guaranteeing unemployment insurance to those who refuse employment they believe will jeopardize their health
  • Reversing transgender military ban
  • Promoting “Buy American”

 

President Biden’s Rocky Transition at the Pentagon

On January 21, President Biden was sworn into office without any of his chosen Pentagon officials confirmed by the Senate. His transition team designated a slate of interim officials to fill those posts to ensure the continuity of governance.

On January 22, Gen. Lloyd Austin, a former four-star Army general, was confirmed by the Senate to serve as the Secretary of Defense. Fears that there would be a lengthy confirmation process as Austin had only been separated from uniformed service for five years, requiring a waiver from both the House and Senate, appeared to be unfounded.

While other key officials have already been named, many mid and lower-level roles remain unknown. An actively updated list can be found here. The Biden administration has sent people in to work as political appointees. Some will remain in these positions and others may be considered for Senate-confirmed roles.

The transition has faced its fair share of conflict. As President Trump was challenging vote counts in several states, transition activities did not begin until several weeks after the election. On November 23, President Trump allowed the Government Services Administration to make an official “ascertainment” that Biden won the election which allowed transition activities to begin.

Despite this, there has still been criticism from the Biden transition team that the Trump administration was obstructing the process and withholding information. Complaints have included not allowing the transition team to engage with leaders at intelligence agencies, cancelling meetings with defense officials, and scrubbingrequests for key information. DoD officials have denied purposeful obstruction, saying they were cooperative or were simply not given clear instructions and were responding accordingly.

While President Biden has been inaugurated, the administration is still in the early stages of their move into the Pentagon.

Interesting Reports and Links

Actual Obligation Rates versus Comptroller Projected Obligation Rates | CSIS

Interactive Federal Budget | CSIS

Defense Spending by State – Fiscal Year 2019 | Department of Defense

Industrial Capabilities Report | Department of Defense

Hypersonic Superweapons Are a Mirage, New Analysis Says | New York Times

To Rule the Invisible Battlefield: The Electromagnetic Spectrum and Chinese Military Power | War on the Rocks