Welcome to the October edition of A Capitol View. We continue to update you on the infrastructure and reconciliation bill, defense confirmations, FY 2022 appropriations bills, and a discussion of semiconductor funding and policy goals from one of our own.
A Look at the Numbers: FY 2022 Senate Appropriations Bills
Earlier this month, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee released the nine remaining FY 2022 appropriations bills from their relevant subcommittees. Below are all 12 of the released appropriations bills and how they compare to last year’s enacted levels, as well as in comparison to the president’s budget request.
Commerce, Science, and Justice
Senate recommendation: $79.7 billion | $8.5 billion above FY 2021
Senate recommendation: $725.8 billion | $29.3 billion above FY 2021
Financial Services and General Government
Senate recommendation: $53 billion | $5.5 billion above FY 2021
Senate recommendation: $71.7 billion | $3.7 million below FY 2021
Interior and Environment
Senate recommendation: $53.1 billion | $14.5 billion above FY 2021
Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education
Senate recommendation: $1.4 billion | $172.6 million above FY 2021
Senate recommendation: $5.9 billion | $165.4 million above FY 2021
State and Foreign Operations
Senate recommendation: $62.8 billion | $1.4 billion above FY 2021
Transportation, Housing and Urban Development
Senate recommendation: $155.1 billion | $18.4 billion above FY 2021
Energy and Water
Senate recommendation: $53.6 billion | $1.8 billion above FY 2021
Agriculture, Rural Development, and Food and Drug Administration
Senate recommendation: $25.9 billion | $2.5 billion above FY 2021
Military Construction and Veterans Affairs
Senate recommendation: $124.4 billion | $11.2 billion above FY 2021
Total Senate recommendation figure: $1.4 trillion | $97.1 billion above FY 2021
Updates: Build Back Better and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Package
New developments emerged late last week on the climate and social spending reconciliation bill, Build Back Better. This legislation, a key piece of the Biden Administration’s agenda, has been the subject of debate within the Democratic party. Moderate Democrats in the Senate and progressive Democrats in the House have disagreed on both the size and scope of the bill. This has stalled progress on the infrastructure spending package, a separate piece of legislation intended to improve traditional infrastructure. Progressive Democrats refuse to vote on the infrastructure bill until they have had time to read and review the bill text of Build Back Better.
Earlier this year, the Biden administration unveiled the $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan. Combined with the American Families Plan, this amounted to $4 trillion for “a transformative effort to overhaul the national economy.” It included investment in both physical infrastructure such as bridges and roads as well as “infrastructure at home” which included improvements to drinking water, public schools, climate change, and more.
On October 28, President Joe Biden released a framework for the latter which is being referred to as the Build Back Better Act. This $1.75 trillion bill is the result of much negotiation over the last few months.
Policy Framework Would Maximize CHIPS Act Effectiveness
On October 21, the Problem Solvers Caucus issued a bipartisan statement calling on Congress to fully fund the CHIPS for America Act, a bipartisan bill that provides investments and incentives to develop semiconductor manufacturing facilities in the United States. This originally passed the Senate in June 2021, as part of the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act. Though met with overwhelming bipartisan support, the policy and funding provisions have an uncertain timeline, as the bill has not yet been passed by the House, nor has it been included in either the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or the Build Back Better Act.
Many of the products that society relies on from personal electronics to automobiles have a critical piece of technology in common: semiconductor chips. These are small transistors, usually made from silicon, that allow most electrical devices to function. Supply complications, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, have caused a shortage of these chips, leading to long lead times and delays for producers and consumers. Because chips can be transported affordably, the supply chain has become increasingly interconnected with many companies providing a limited set of services before shipping the chips off to their next location. The fragility of this supply chain means that the closure or failure of even one company may cause massive disruptions.
Update: Biden Defense Nominees Continue to be Confirmed
The Senate has continued to hold hearings on President Biden’s nominations. To date, 21 individuals have been confirmed to politically appointed positions in the Department of Defense (DoD).
Below is a list of nominees that are awaiting a Senate confirmation hearing or a confirmation vote since September:
· Peter Beshar, General Counsel of the Air Force
· John Coffey, General Counsel of the Navy
· Gabe Camarillo, Undersecretary of the Army
· David Honey, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering
· Sasha Baker, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Policy
· Brenda Sue Fulton, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs
· Andrew Hunter, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, Logistics
· Alex Wagner, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs
· Douglas Bush, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology
· Rachel Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment
· Nickolas Guertin, Director of Defense for Operational Test and Evaluation