Welcome to the September 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.


Meet Our Newest SMI Team Members!

SMI has had the pleasure of introducing two new Analysts to our team in the last month. Learn more about them below:

Camryn Anderson – Analyst (pictured left)
Camryn graduated from American University in May with a B.A in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus in Communication, Legal Institutions, Economics, and Government. For the past several months Camryn was working with the American Fisheries Society where she supported senior policy executives with research, legislation, and materials preparation for Hill briefings. Prior to her work with the American Fisheries Society, Camryn interned with the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the International Conservation Caucus Foundation, and Senator Bill Cassidy’s office.

Camryn is from New Orleans, Louisiana. In her free time, she enjoys exploring D.C. neighborhoods, hiking, and trying new restaurants. She is excited to work with SMI and get to know all our clients.

William Willkomm – Analyst (pictured right)
William recently graduated from the University of Maine with a B.A. in Political Science and is pursuing an M.P.S. from George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management in Legislative Affairs. Prior to joining our team, William was working as a Corporate Relations Fellow for the National Association of Counties, where he helped secure sponsorship funding and coordinated with their government affairs team on American Rescue Plan Act issues. He was also previously a congressional intern for Rep. Elaine Luria’s office, a campaign finance intern at Elaine Luria for Congress, and a constituent services intern at Senator Collins’ Bangor, ME office.

William is originally from outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He enjoys playing basketball, spending time with friends, and staying involved in national politics. He is looking forward to hitting the ground running at SMI and getting involved with our clients.


Update: Infrastructure Bill Coming to Vote in House

On August 10, the Senate passed a bipartisan infrastructure package that stemming from intense negotiations and debates, with the final vote 69-30. This legislation must still pass the House and focuses primarily on transportation and utilities, such as roads, bridges, airports, railways, high-speed internet, and water infrastructure.

House Republican leaders are still pushing for their members to reject the $1 trillion infrastructure bill. However, some of the Senate Republicans who played a key role in writing the bill have been outspoken about their support for its passage.

Some House Democrats have been critical of the decision to vote on this bill without a defined path forward for the broader $3.5 trillion package.

The final vote for this bill in the House is scheduled to be late Friday, October 1.


Update: FY22 NDAA and Appropriations

National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

After being introduced in early July, the House of Representatives passed the 61st consecutive FY22 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by a 316-113 margin on September 23. Notable provisions in the legislation include the authorization for a comprehensive investigation into the withdrawal from Afghanistan, inclusion of women in registering for the draft, and for new ships and continued missile procurement. The legislation set the stage for defense spending at $740 billion, $24 billion more than what was in the President’s budget request.

On the same day of the House passage, the Senate Armed Services Committee filed its final version of the NDAA which looks to authorize nearly $768 billion in defense spending for the upcoming fiscal year. The Senate version has now made its way to the floor for debate, amendments, and eventual passage.

Appropriations

A clash with the debt ceiling seems all but certain, meanwhile crucial defense funding sits in limbo. The House Appropriations Committee approved the FY22 defense bill by a 33-23 vote in July with the hope that the Senate’s Appropriations version would be released shortly thereafter.

On September 30, the last day of the fiscal year, President Biden signed a continuing resolution passed by both chambers which will fund the government through December 3. Despite the passage of the continuing resolution, concerns regarding the debt ceiling remain. Congress will need to vote to raise the debt ceiling before October 18 or risk the U.S. defaulting.


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.


Rolls-Royce Wins Air Force Contract Worth $2.6 Billion to Replace B-52 Engines

On September 24, the Department of Defense announced that Rolls-Royce Corp. in Indianapolis, Indiana had been selected as the contractor for the B-52 Commercial Engine Replacement Program (CERP), a contract worth $2.6 billion over the next 17 years. Rolls-Royce beat out General Electric and Pratt & Whitney for the contract in a bid process that has been ongoing since 2018.

The B-52 CERP falls under the White House’s initiatives to make the aviation industry more sustainable and efficient. Included in the plan are goals to produce more sustainable aviation fuel, reduce aviation emissions by 20 percent, and grow union jobs in the industry. With the new Rolls-Royce engines, the B-52s will have an improved range and fuel economy by up to 40 percent. The B-52 will be receiving other updates as well, including new radars, digital cockpits, and connectivity upgrades.

Rolls-Royce has stated that it has invested $600 million in its Indianapolis plant to transform it into an “advanced manufacturing plant,” an investment that will bring in an additional 150 jobs to the area.

Following this contract, the CERP will likely be converted into a USAF major acquisition program, according to acting Air Force acquisition executive Darlene Costello.


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.

Below is a list of civilian nominees that have been confirmed since July.

  • Gil Cisneros, Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness: Aug. 11
  • Kathleen S. Miller, Defense Department Deputy Comptroller: Aug. 6
  • Christopher Maier, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict: Aug. 7
  • Mara Karlin, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans and Capabilities: Aug. 9
  • Caral Spangler, Army Comptroller: Aug. 9

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

  • Carrie Ricci, General Counsel of the Army
  • John Coffey, General Counsel of the Navy
  • John Sherman, Department of Defense Chief Information Officer
  • David Honey, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering
  • Sasha Baker, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy
  • Ashish Vazirani, Department of Defense Principal Deputy Undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness
  • Melissa Dalton, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security Affairs
  • 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
  • John Plumb, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy
  • Nickolas Guertin, Department of Defense Director for Operational Test and Evaluation