As we approach the home stretch for the two trillion-dollar-plus infrastructure bills that have consumed an extraordinary amount of legislative energy over the past few months, it’s easy to become confused.

Here’s a MeriTalk reader checklist for understanding the major IT and cybersecurity issues in the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package.

The most recent big developments on the bill came last week as the last of the House committees who received instructions to contribute reconciliation package wrapped up their legislative language Sept. 15. The committees have come together to produce a gigantic legislation that would spend billions of supply chain resiliency, broadband, cyber, and emerging tech research.

The final bill is now being compiled by the House Budget Committee before being sent to the Rules Committee. The Senate is also working on some tweaks to the House language that congressional Democrats would look to reconcile, ideally before bringing the bill to a vote.

What Made the First Draft?

The reconciliation package as it stands today will not be the final version. As the bill undergoes further work by the House Rules Committee, amendments and other measures taken with Senate passage in mind inevitably will change the details of the package.

But for right now, here are some of the most impactful tech provisions included by the 13 House committees.

  • The Oversight Committee included $12 billion for the electrification of the Federal vehicle fleet, and an amendment that would add $3.35 billion for IT Modernization.
    • From that amendment – proposed by Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va. – $1 billion would go to the Technology Modernization Fund, $2 billion would go to the General Service Administration’s (GSA) Federal Citizen Services Fund, and $350 million would go to the Office of Management and Budget’s Information Technology Oversight and Reform account.
  • The Energy and Commerce Committee included:
    • $10 billion for supply chain resiliency,
    • $4 billion in additional funding for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program,
    • $10 billion to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to transition to a Next Generation 9-1-1 system,
    • $80 million to NTIA to build a Next Generation 9-1-1 Cybersecurity Center, and
    • $10 million to create a 6G advisory board.
  • The Committee on Science, Space, and Technology included:
    • $1.195 billion to the National Institute of Standards and Technology for cybersecurity and emerging tech research, and
    • $7 million to NASA for cybersecurity on other agency investments included in the print.
  • The print that passed the Homeland Security Committee appropriates $856 million that will all go the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). That funding breaks down to:
    • $400 million for the implementation of President Biden’s cyber executive order,
    • $210 million for operations,
    • $100 million to develop a cyber upskilling training education program,
    • $50 million for the Crossfeed program,
    • $50 million to establish a Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center,
    • $25 million to help develop and execute a national multi-factor authentication campaign,
    • $20 million for the agency to expand its programs that work with international partners to protect critical infrastructure, and
    • $10 million to develop a continuity of economy plan, as required by the fiscal year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, in the event the nation faces a major disruption.
  • Finally, Ways and Means included $1 billion to expand the child tax credit. The priority for that funding will be developing a tool that makes it easy for non-English speakers and non-tax filers to sign up.

We will be keeping an eye on what makes the cut and what gets cut as the bill continues to make its way through Congress.

Timing

The timing of the bill’s consideration is a little harder to pin down.

The House still has hopes to pass the package by the end of September, to keep it in line with the Senate-passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that the chamber will consider starting Sept. 27. However, fiscal year (FY) 2021 also draws to a close Sept. 30, and Congress is staring down the barrel of a fight on raising the debt limit and needing to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government funded.

On the Senate side, where the chamber is split 50-50, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is still in opposition to the package’s $3.5 trillion price tag, according to Axios. A Senate version of the bill is expected in the coming weeks, according to other reporting. The Senate Democrats will need every member of the caucus needing to be on board for the package to pass, with the help of Vice President Kamala Harris as the tiebreaking vote.

Expect leaders in both chambers to talk more about just when they expect the bring the bill up for consideration soon, with both the Senate and House returning to action today.

 

 

 

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Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.
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