Washington Weekly – March 14, 2014

March 14, 2014

The House passed a bill requiring the Attorney General to report to Congress when federal officers refrain from enforcing laws as well as a bill authorizing Congress to pursue civil action against the Executive Branch for not executing laws. The House also passed the Water Rights Protection Act, a resolution expressing support for the people of Ukraine, and a bill providing a long-term fix for Medicare’s physicians’ pay problem offset by a five-year delay of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. While the current “doc fix” expires on March 31, the Senate is unlikely to agree to the House bill because of the offset. A short-term extension might be needed. The Senate passed Sen. McCaskill’s (D-MO) sexual assault prevention in the military bill and a bill reauthorizing the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act. The Senate also passed the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (HR 3370), which now goes to the President for his signature.

FY2015 Budget

The White House released part two of its $1.014 trillion FY15 budget request on Monday, which included the budget’s historical tables and analytical perspectives. Administration officials were on the Hill this week testifying and defending the President’s FY15 budget request.

OMB released two sequestration reports this week. While the Balanced Budget Act (PL 113-67) Congress passed in December averted sequestration in FY15 for discretionary funding, the sequester will still cut almost $18B from mandatory spending programs. These reports outline what those mandatory cuts will look like for each non-exempt budget account with direct spending. The Budget Control Act (PL 112-25) calls for sequestration of almost $18B in defense and non-defense direct spending in FY15. The reports can be found at:

http://www.vantagepointstrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/sequestration_order_report_march2014.pdf

http://www.vantagepointstrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/sequestration_preview_report_march2014.pdf

FY15 Appropriations

House and Senate Appropriations Chairs, Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) have set aggressive timetables for marking up their FY15 appropriations bills this year. They would like to have them enacted into law by Oct. 1. Both will begin marking up their bills in subcommittee in May, with floor action for some bills starting in June. The order of consideration has not been decided.

Mikulski said this week that the Transportation HUD bill will likely be among the first ones her panel marks up. Defense may be considered later or last in the Senate as appropriators have not received the Administration’s FY15 Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) budget request. The budget included a $79.4 billion placeholder for OCO until DOD can better determine the scope of the enduring US presence in Afghanistan. During several hearings this week, Pentagon officials were asked when they could expect the FY15 OCO budget. DOD Comptroller Robert Hale responded that they wouldn’t be able to finalize the budget details until the bilateral security agreement is complete. This is not likely until after the elections on April 5. The Administration is expecting the next president of Afghanistan to sign the agreement. If there is no winner in April, a runoff would be held in August.

In the House, the Legislative Branch and MilCon/VA may be considered first, and Labor HHS Education likely would go last. While it has been reported that Rogers and Mikulski may pre-negotiate the subcommittee FY15 allocations, otherwise known as 302(b)s, that decision has not yet been made.

As a reminder, the deadlines for members of Congress to submit their programmatic and language requests for the FY15 appropriations process are as follows:

House Appropriations Subcommittee Deadline
Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Agencies Mar. 31
Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Mar. 31
Defense Apr. 2
Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Apr. 2
Financial Services and General Government Apr. 2
Homeland Security Mar. 31
Interior Apr. 4
Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies Apr. 4
Legislative Branch Mar. 17
Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Mar. 17
State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Apr. 4
Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies Apr. 2

 

Cybersecurity

DHS named a new leadership team in the National Protection and Programs Directorate’s Office of Cybersecurity and Communications:

  • Andy Ozment

Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications

In addition to his recent role as Senior Director for Cybersecurity at the White House, Ozment has previously served in operational and policy roles at both DHS and the DoD.

  • Air Force Brigadier General Gregory J. Touhill

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity Operations and Programs

Touhill will focus on the development and implementation of operational programs designed to protect government networks and the critical systems that run power plants and utilities.

  • Bobbie Stempfley

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity Strategy and Emergency Communications

Stempfly will oversee emergency communications, developing and implementing strategy and policy efforts, as well as focusing on building on our partnerships with the public and private sectors, and the general public.

Homeland Security

The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency Chair Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) introduced legislation this week to reform DHS’ acquisition management. Reps. Ron Barber (D-AZ) and Steve Daines (R-MT) were cosponsors of the bill, H.R. 4228, the DHS Acquisition, Accountability and Efficiency Act. The bill requires greater oversight of DHS’ purchasing process and reforms DHS’ acquisition process by:

  • Authorizing the Department’s Chief Acquisition Officer, the Undersecretary for Management, to approve, halt, modify or cancel major acquisition programs as needed;
  • Requiring that every major acquisition program have an approved Acquisition Program Baseline (APB) document;
  • Codifying the Acquisition Review Board and requiring the board to validate the documents – including the APB – and review the cost, schedule and performance objectives of major acquisitions;
  • Requiring a Multiyear Acquisition Strategy be included in each Future Years Homeland Security Program;
  • Authorizing the Chief Procurement Officer to serve as the main liaison to industry and to oversee a certification and training program for DHS’s acquisition workforce;
  • Compelling DHS to submit to Congress major acquisition programs that fail to meet cost, schedule or performance metrics through quarterly status and accountability reports;
  • Directing the Department to find ways to streamline the acquisition process and strategically address issues regarding bid protest without creating any new offices or programs; and
  • Instructing DHS to eliminate unnecessary duplication.

A copy of the bill can be found at:

http://www.vantagepointstrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/031314-HR4228.pdf

Political Updates

Republican David Jolly defeated Democrat Alex Sink in the special election for Florida’s 13th District. Jolly was sworn in on Thursday and succeeds Rep. Bill Young (R-FL), who passed away in October. The district is a true swing district that was won by President Obama in 2012. Jolly won the race 48.5% to 46.6% running as an opponent to Obamacare while Sink promised to work across the aisle bringing Democrats and Republicans together. This was an opportunity for both parties to test out their attack lines for the November election. Jolly will have to run for re-election in November.

Next Week

The House and Senate are in recess next week. The Senate will resume consideration of a bill to provide aide to Ukraine when they return the week of March 24. They will also take up an emergency unemployment compensation extension bill, “doc fix” legislation, and nominations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *