Washington Weekly – June 13, 2014

June 13, 2014

The House passed a NASA reauthorization bill (HR 4412), the FY15 Transportation HUD Appropriations bill (HR 4745), two tax extender bills (HR 4453 and HR 4457), and a bill directing the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to enter into contracts for the provision of hospital care and medical services at non-Department of Veterans Affairs facilities for VA patients with extended waiting times (HR 4810). The House began consideration of the FY15 Agriculture Appropriations bill, but unexpectedly pulled it from the floor after members voted on a series of amendments. The bill may return to the floor the week of June 23. The Senate began consideration of the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act (S 2432), but the motion to invoke cloture was not agreed to by a vote of 56 to 38. The Senate was able to pass a bill (HR 3230/S 2450) to improve the access of veterans to medical services by a vote of 93 to 3 as well as an FY14 Intelligence Authorization bill (S 1681), which passed by voice vote. The VA reform bills in the House and Senate are similar and members of Congress expect that they will be able to quickly iron out their differences to send a bill to the President for his signature. Conservatives may push to find an offset for the bill after CBO released its cost estimates this week.

FY2015 Appropriations

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) unexpected primary loss this week slowed floor momentum and caused House leaders to pull the FY15 Agriculture spending bill from the floor after several amendments had been offered and voted on. The fate of the remaining FY15 spending bills is questionable, as the House will focus on leadership elections next week. Conservatives may feel emboldened by Cantor’s defeat and hopeful for Republican majorities in the House and Senate in 2015. They may push to delay all spending bills and seek a continuing resolution delaying all spending decisions until they have control over both houses of Congress. There are less than 25 legislative days left before the August recess, so the goal of passing all 12 spending bills before then is looking less and less likely. The Senate is expected to take up a minibus appropriations bill on the floor next week containing the FY15 Commerce, Justice, Science; Transportation HUD; and Agriculture spending bills. Sen. Mikulski (D-MD) has said that members will be allowed to offer amendments to the minibus measure. The House may take up the FY15 Defense appropriations bill on the floor next week.


The $52 billion FY15 Transportation HUD bill was on the House floor this week. The House Appropriations Committee marked up their $491 billion FY15 Defense and $39.2 billion FY15 Homeland Security appropriations bills in full committee this week, and the FY15 Energy & Water bill in subcommittee. The panel also approved technical revisions to their FY15 spending allocations, otherwise known as 302(b)s, agreeing to changing the spending limits by voice vote. The changes shift $18 million to the Labor HHS and Financial Services bills from the Defense and CJS bills. It does not change the overall cap of $1.014 trillion for discretionary spending.

Transportation HUD

The House passed the $52 billion FY15 Transportation HUD spending bill on the floor by a vote of 229 to 192. Last year’s bill had to be pulled from the House floor because of disagreements over the top-line funding level and concerns that TIGER grants had been zeroed out. House Republicans believe that the grant program has been poorly managed and slashed TIGER grants from $600 million in FY14 to $100 million in FY15. During floor consideration, Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) offered an amendment that would bar the issuance of Section 8 housing vouchers for levels above 120% of an area’s fair market rental value. The amendment passed 210 to 209. The House also adopted an amendment cutting off funding for high-speed rail in California offered by Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA). And amendments barring the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Agency from raising its liability insurance requirements for truck and bus companies and barring federal housing agencies from acquiring cameras to photograph license plates were passed. Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) offered a controversial amendment to abolish subsidies for Amtrak, but was defeated on a voice vote. The White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy that criticized several provisions in the bill, but stopped short of threatening a veto.


The House Appropriations Committee marked up their $491 billion FY15 Defense spending bill in full committee this week. The bill provides an increase of $4.1 billion above the FY14 enacted level and $200 million above the President’s budget request. The draft bill provides $165 billion for operations and maintenance ($4.8 billion more than the FY14), $63.4 billion for research and development, $91.2 billion for equipment procurement, and $31.6 billion for defense health and military family programs. In addition, the bill includes $79.4 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding, the same level requested by the President and included in the FY15 House-passed National Defense Authorization Act. House Appropriators approved the bill by voice vote after adding restrictions on OCO funding after heated debate over the Bergdahl prisoner exchange. The provision withholds 85% of OCO funds until the Pentagon assures Congress that it will not circumvent a law requiring it to notify lawmakers 30 days in advance of transferring Guantanamo Bay prisoners from the detention facility. Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) offered an amendment during the full committee markup that would cut funding for O&M and put the savings toward maintaining the A-10 aircraft fleet, which the Air Force wants to retire. The amendment was not agreed to. The bill may be considered on the House floor next week.

Homeland Security

The House Appropriations Committee marked up its $39.2 billion FY15 Homeland Security spending bill in subcommittee this week. This is a decrease of $50 million below the FY14 enacted level, but an increase of $887.8 million above the President’s FY14 budget request. The bill includes an additional $78 million to handle the increase in unaccompanied minors crossing the Southern border. Amendments that were adopted included a provision barring ICE from funding abortions for female detainees, except in cases of rape or incest or when the life of the mother would be endangered. Members are also frustrated with tardy submissions of reports and expenditure plans from DHS so they zeroed out funding for the Office of Legislative Affairs and threatened to cut other management accounts.

Energy & Water

The House Energy and Water Appropriations subcommittee marked up its $34 billion FY15 Energy & Water spending bill this week. FY15 funding in the bill is $50 million less than the FY14 enacted level and an increase of $327 million above the President’s budget request. The bill provides $11.4 billion for DOE’s nuclear weapons security programs, including Weapons Activities, Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, and Naval Reactors. This is a $154.6 million increase over FY14. The Army Corps of Engineers is funded at $5.5 billion, an increase of $25 million above FY14. Environmental Cleanup funding Included in the legislation is $5.6 billion, $202.2 million below FY14. Funding for energy programs within DOE is $10.3 billion – an increase of $113 million above FY14. The bill includes $5.1 billion for science research (same as FY14); $1 billion for the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Reclamation to help manage, develop, and protect the water resources of western states; $150 million for the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Disposal program; and $55 million for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to continue the adjudication of DOE’s Yucca Mountain License application. Republicans held off on trying to block the Obama administrations plans for new carbon emissions standards, but are expected to offer amendments on this issue during full committee markup next week. The bill will be marked up in full committee next Wednesday.


The Senate marked up their $156.8 billion FY15 Labor HHS appropriations bill in subcommittee and was expected to consider the bill in full committee on Thursday, but the markup was postponed indefinitely. The postponement may have come from concern over potential controversial Republican amendments (e.g. cutting funds for “Obamacare”) that would cause vulnerable Democrats (Landrieu, D-LA; Pryor, D-AR; and Shaheen, D-NH) up for reelection in 2014 to be put in the position of casting difficult votes. The bill is about $900 million more than the House’s allocation, but $1.2 billion below the administration’s request.

FY2015 Appropriations Bill Status

Appropriations Subcommittee House Action Senate Action
Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Agencies Subcommittee: May 20

Full Committee: May 29

Floor: Pulled June 11

Subcommittee: May 20

Full Committee: May 22

Floor: week of June 16

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee: April 30

Full Committee: May 8

House Floor: May 29

Subcommittee: June 3

Full Committee: June 5

Floor: week of June 16

Defense Subcommittee: May 30

Full Committee: June 10

Floor: week of June 16?

Subcommittee: Week of July 7
Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee: June 10

Full Committee: June 18

Subcommittee: June 17

Full Committee: June 19

Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee: June 18  
Homeland Security Subcommittee: May 28

Full Committee: June 11

Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies   Subcommittee: June 10

Full Committee: postponed

Legislative Branch Subcommittee: April 3

Full Committee: April 9

Floor: May 1

Full Committee: June 19
Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Subcommittee: April 3

Full Committee: April 9

Floor: April 30

Subcommittee: May 20

Full Committee: May 22

State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee: June 17 Subcommittee: June 17

Full Committee: June 19

Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies Subcommittee: May 7

Full Committee: May 21

Floor: June 10

Subcommittee: June 3

Full Committee: June 5

Floor: week of June 16

Defense Acquisition

Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall and Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition Sean Stackley held a press briefing today on the second annual Performance of the Defense Acquisition System Report, a Better Buying Power update and the Superior Supplier Incentive Program. The report examines 150 defense deals and breaks down the performance of major contractors in delivering programs on time and on budget. A copy of DOD’s Performance of the Defense Acquisition System 2014 Annual Report can be found at:



Federal Communications Commission Cybersecurity Approach

At an American Enterprise Institute event this week, “After Snowden: The road ahead for cybersecurity,” Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler unveiled a new cybersecurity approach for the nation’s communications networks. Wheeler warned communication companies to take cybersecurity more seriously if they want to avoid new regulations on their networks. He said that the FCC believes that, “there is a new regulatory paradigm where the Commission relies on industry and the market first while preserving other options if that approach is unsuccessful.” Wheeler also said that the FCC would be seeking input on how to measure whether any security regime implemented by the telecom industry is working and effective. The full text of Wheeler’s speech can be found at:


DHS Cyber Industry Days

DHS is inviting interested parties (universities, businesses, laboratories, etc) to participate in their Cyber Industry Days regarding an upcoming solicitation/call to be issued against the DHS, S&T, Cybersecurity Division BAA (https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=f73abf2e77c708034a7c63634679ba1b&tab=core&_cview=1). The purpose of the industry days is to brief interested parties on each specific BAA topic:

  1. Distributed Denial of Service Defense: Thursday, June 26, 2014 from 1:30 pm – 3:45 pm (EDT) at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC. https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=e85505561a099a6043631c5709a98d55&tab=core&_cview=0
  2. Cyber Physical Systems Security: Thursday, June 26, 2014 from 9:30 am – 11:45 am (EDT) at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC. https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=2472ee7c7126e48008a76b65fe2ca903&tab=core&_cview=0
  3. Mobile Technology Security: Tuesday, June 24, 2014 from 1:30 pm – 4:15 pm (EDT) at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC. https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=621830a47ca346e6e0a1063fa99a4d5b&tab=core&_cview=0
  4. Data Privacy Technologies Research and Development: Tuesday, June 24, 2014 from 9:00 am – 11:50 am (EDT) at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC. https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=b0179e8b8c3164a264bddd1355e1c91d&tab=core&_cview=0

Homeland Security

The House of Representatives passed HR 4228 the DHS Acquisition Accountability and Efficiency Act by voice vote under suspension of the rules this week. The bill would require an acquisition review board led by the DHS Under Secretary for Management to review every major acquisition program in DHS and to take steps to improve the accountability, standardization, and transparency of major DHS acquisition programs. In the event of a breach in a major DHS acquisition program, the board would have to notify Congress of decisions to move forward with each phase of the acquisition and provide lawmakers with strategic plans for improvement. DHS would also be required to provide Congress with a multiyear acquisition strategy.

The House Homeland Security Committee marked up eight bills in full committee this week approving all by voice vote:

  • HR 3846 would authorize Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to create a uniform procedure for the use of deadly force by CBP officers and border agents, as well as require them to take continuing education courses in order to understand federal legal rulings and court decisions.
  • HR 3488 establishes the conditions for the formation of preclearance facilities outside the US.
  • HR 3202, the “Essential Transportation Worker Identification Credential Assessment Act” requires a security assessment of the transportation security card program.
  • The “Social Media Working Group Act” (HR 4263) authorizes DHS to establish a social media working group.
  • The “DHS Security Interoperable Communications Act” (HR 4289) requires DHS to maintain interoperable communications capabilities among DHS components.
  • HR 4802, the “Airport Security Enhancement Act of 2014” focuses on improving intergovernmental planning for and communication during security incidents at domestic airports.
  • The “TSA Office of Inspection Accountability Act” (HR 4803) requires TSA to conform to existing Federal law and regulations regarding criminal investigator positions.
  • HR 4812, the “Honor Flight Act” requires TSA to establish a process for providing expedited and dignified passenger screening services for veterans traveling to visit war memorials.

Political Updates

In a major upset this week, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) lost his bid for reelection in a primary contest to Tea Party backed candidate David Brat. Prior to his defeat, Cantor was considered next in line for House Speaker. The following day Cantor announced that he would step down from his leadership position on July 31. House Republicans will hold elections for majority leader and majority whip next week on June 19. Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA was initially the only candidate in the running for majority leader, but Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) announced today that he will run for the position. Labrador is a leading conservative voice. Reps. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and Pete Sessions (R-TX) were considering challenging McCarthy for the leadership spot, but quickly dropped out. Reps. Steve Scalise (R-LA), Marlin Stutzman (R-IN), and Peter Roskam (R-IL) are all running for McCarthy’s position as majority whip.

Michael McCord was confirmed by the full Senate this week to be Under Secretary of Defense, Comptroller. He replaces current Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale who is retiring. McCord has been serving as the deputy comptroller since January 2009 and was nominated for the position four months ago. He is a former Senate Armed Services Committee staffer under Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) and former Chairman Sam Nunn (D-GA). Hale’s last day at the Pentagon has not been announced.

Air Force Maj. Gen. William Bender has been appointed to the rank of lieutenant general for assignment as chief of information dominance and chief information officer in the office of the secretary of the Air Force. He’s now deputy chief in the office of Security Cooperation-Iraq.

Next Week

The House may begin consideration of HR 4413, the Customer Protection and End User Relief Act, a bill reauthorizing the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, as well as the FY15 Defense Appropriations bill. The Senate will turn its attention to a minibus appropriations bill containing the FY15 Commerce, Justice, Science; Transportation HUD; and Agriculture spending bills.

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