Welcome to A Capitol View! This month’s edition features an interview with SMI’s newly promoted CEO Bill McCann.
Other stories include: the status of the infrastructure bill, the FY22 appropriations process, the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, and more.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Strategy Continues, with Conflict
On Thursday, June 24, President Biden endorsed the bipartisan infrastructure framework put together by 10 senators, signaling a deal could be near. The bipartisan framework was led by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and would include almost $600 billion in spending on roads, bridges, and traditional infrastructure projects.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) emphasized the infrastructure plan is currently on two tracks – the first being bipartisan, and the second to include policies that will likely not get Republican support. Biden also said that he would not sign the bipartisan bill unless Democrats pass his other social spending priorities such as clean energy, childcare, and “human infrastructure.” With the Senate evenly split, every Democrat would need to vote in favor of these priorities.
Interview with SMI CEO, Bill McCann
In April of this year, SMI’s Board of Directors named Bill McCann the next Chief Executive Officer & President of SMI and Ken Wetzel the next Chief Operating Officer. In our last newsletter, we were able to interview Ken on the transition. This month, we had the opportunity to ask Bill some questions on his own insights on SMI.
You’re following up quite an act as SMI’s new President & CEO following Glen Mandigo, who is now stepping down after nearly 8 years. How do you see SMI evolving in our next 8 years?
Bill: SMI has been in business since 1993 and from the start the company has provided clients with a unique combination of government relations and technical expertise … and that’s going to continue. Glen preaches client leadership, meaning that our job is to provide clients with a strategy to achieve their goals with the federal government. Client leadership is part of SMI’s DNA. Ted and Glen were providing client leadership from day one and a big part of my job is to ensure that we have the team and the resources to continue that mission.
You, yourself have had a long tenure at SMI, previously as COO. What have you found most rewarding about working here, and what do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Bill: In terms of the single greatest accomplishment, some call me the Tom Brady of the K Street Cup, but I’ve only won SMI’s golf scramble six times which is obviously one less than TB12’s seven Super Bowls.
In all seriousness, I hope that my greatest accomplishment is linked with what I find most rewarding at SMI. Above all else, I value the relationships that I’ve built with my coworkers and with my clients. Way back in 2005, I joined SMI and got to work with people like Ted, Glen, Pat Peterson, Damian Kunko, Mark Gillman and Shelley Luehring. They are all still part of the SMI team and over the years so many other great people have joined SMI. I’ve also been privileged to work with clients on projects that started in the lab and are now used by our armed forces. That’s incredibly rewarding. Just as rewarding are the relationships with clients, many of whom have become great personal friends and mentors.
What do you see as SMI’s biggest strengths right now?
Bill: SMI’s single greatest strength is, was and always will be the incredible team of professionals. It’s not just expertise and experience. We’ve also recruited great team players at SMI. Between our full-time folks and the senior advisors, we can put together a team of experts that can not only come up with a lobbying campaign but can also understand the client’s technology at a highly technical level.
As we return to our offices and DC rush hour returns, what are some things you are looking forward to as the city opens up again?
Bill: The pandemic has taught me that teleworking works … but I still miss meeting in person. I’m looking forward to Capitol Hill reopening and conducting Hill visits that are not on Zoom or Teams. Now that I’m fully vaccinated, I’ve had a couple of business trips and look forward to doing more in the coming months. It’s also great to see my colleagues at the office.
And perhaps a final question for us to get to know you better – What’s your favorite movie you’ve seen recently?
Bill: It’s not a new film but I recently rewatched Charlie Wilson’s War starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. It’s a somewhat true story and based on a book by the same title. During the 1980s, Texan Congressman Charlie Wilson used the defense appropriations process to secretly fund the Afghan Mujahadeen in their war against the Soviet Union. Serious topic but a very funny political satire. It depicts a Congress, an appropriations process, and a Washington DC social scene that doesn’t really exist anymore.
Highlights From FY22 Defense Budget Request
The Biden Administration’s first budget request was released in the last week of May. Some winners and losers, according to Aviation Week, from the PBR are below:
Research & Development – PBR proposed a 5 percent increase ($5 billion) to R&D for priorities such as hypersonic weapons development, microelectronics, 5G, nuclear modernization, and biotechnology. These increases are weighted towards more mature research.
Hypersonic Weapons – PBR asks to allow hypersonic glide vehicle to proceed into production and to approve the purchase of 12 Lockheed Martin Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapons (ARRW).
Nuclear Modernization – PBR includes $43.2 billion for nuclear delivery vehicles; funding for Long-Range Standoff Missile to equip the bomber fleet; maintains the W76-2 low-yield nuclear warhead that can be launched from submarines; and provides funding for a new sea-launched cruise missile that can carry a nuclear warhead.
U.S. Space Force – PBR increased by 13%, much of the increase for R&D.
F-15EX – PBR requested 12 new aircraft but would like another dozen of the upgraded fourth-generation fighters, according to the service’s unfunded priorities list; would support divestment of F-15C aircraft through 2026 and max out Boeing production capacity.
Bombers – Air Force is looking for $3.3 billion to prepare for first Northrop Grumman B-21s to arrive; budget includes funding for two B-21 test aircraft and preparation for initial production and funding for modernization of B-52 engines and radar systems.
Joint Standoff Weapon – Navy plans to cancel the extended-range version of the Raytheon AGM-154E Joint Standoff Weapon and will instead buy Lockheed Martin AGM-158B Joint Air-To-Surface Standoff Missile Extended Range.
Fighter Aircraft – Fighter procurement dollars dropped 22%.
Retirement Time – Retirement for fleets of older aircraft, including KC-135 and KC-10 tankers.
Rotorcraft Procurement – PBR proposes buying 151 fewer helicopters than in FY21.
F-35 – Service requests buying 85, a decline of 11 relative to FY21.
U.S. Innovation and Competition Act Passes the Senate
On June 8, the Senate passed the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), a bill intended to bolster competitiveness with China, on a bipartisan vote of 68-32. Sponsored by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Todd Young (R-IN), the bill began as a targeted funding boost to help the National Science Foundation study artificial intelligence, quantum computing and advanced energy. However, it has grown to merge many previously introduced bills together, including the CHIPS Act.
Broadly, the bill emphasizes the importance of increased collaboration and information sharing between industry, academia, and government. There is a focus on tech transfer and long-term investment to ensure that R&D efforts are able to sustainably be brought to market in the future. Additionally, there are numerous provisions including scholarships and internships that aim to develop and retain a strong domestic workforce that has the know how to compete in emerging and critical markets. The bill also encourages investment in marginalized and underserved communities.
Moreover, large portions of the bill focus on limiting and eliminating the influence of China and Chinese companies by restricting their ability to access funding and information.
The House will need to pass its own version of the bill. Then, the two chambers will need to resolve their differences before a final copy is sent to the President’s desk.
House Appropriations Bills Markup Schedule
The House Appropriations Committee announced its Fiscal Year 2022 schedule for Subcommittee and full Committee markups for the twelve annual appropriations bills. The full schedule is available below:
Subcommittee Markups: Financial Services and General Government; Legislative Branch
Subcommittee Markups: Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies; Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies
Subcommittee Markups: Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
Full Committee Markups: Subcommittee Allocations; Financial Services and General Government; Legislative Branch
Full Committee Markups: Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies; Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies
Subcommittee Markups: Defense; Homeland Security
Full Committee Markups: Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
Subcommittee Markups: Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies; Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies; Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies; Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies
Full Committee Markups: Defense; Homeland Security
Full Committee Markups: Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies; Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies
Full Committee Markups: Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies; Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies
As noted above, the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee will mark up their bill on Wednesday, June 30 and the full committee will consider the Defense bill on Tuesday, July 13. The Senate timeline is still unclear at this point. The House and Senate Armed Services Committees continue to move forward with their FY22 budget hearings. The text of the bills is generally available 24 hours before the full committee mark up.
Services Send List of $17 Billion of Unfunded Priorities to Congress
After the release of the President’s Budget Request, each of the military services send Congress an “unfunded requirements list” (URL) which lists programs that they believe require additional funding. These are often referred to as service “wish lists.” This is done at the request of congressional defense committees that are responsible for leading the efforts on the defense appropriations bills.
The Army has identified $4.4 billion in unfunded priorities which include tactical training, soldier quality of life, strategic power projection capabilities, wheeled and tracked combat vehicles, cyber security upgrades, and the procurement of some legacy systems.
The Air Force has identified $4.2 billion in unfunded priorities including additional F-15EXs, support equipment, and fuel tanks. While it also includes F-35 sustainment which would buy additional power modules and fund weapons systems sustainment for “critical F-35 capability,” it does not request additional F-35As.
The Marine Corps has identified nearly $3 billion for four key areas: fires, sensors, mobility, and networks. Their list is categorized into four categories including $1.15 billion for force design, $162 million for individual Marine, $426 million for other modernization, and $1.22 billion for military construction.
The Navy has identified $5.5 billion in unfunded priorities which includes an additional guided missile destroyer, five more F-35C Joint Strike Fighters, an additional E-2D Advanced Hawkeye airborne early warning and control plane, four more CMV-22 Osprey transports, and development funding for missiles, lasers, and uncrewed aircraft.