With the House consideration of the Build Back Better Act (BBBA) – Democrats’ $1.75 trillion-plus budget reconciliation bill – pushed to this week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said that the Senate will begin consideration of the fiscal year (FY) 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) this week.

In a Nov. 14 Dear Colleague letter, Sen. Schumer told senators that they may also add the Senate-passed United States Investment and Competition Act (USICA) to the NDAA as an amendment.

Attaching the USICA bill to the NDAA, Sen. Schumer said, would help keep the Senate schedule flexible for the rest of the calendar year, and pave the way for Congress to consider another continuing resolution before Dec. 3, when funding for the Federal government is set to run out.

“Due to the House pushing back consideration of the BBBA to the week of November 15th, it is likely that the Senate considers the NDAA this upcoming week as we await House passage of the BBBA, Sen. Schumer wrote. “The Senate may add the Senate-passed text of USICA to the NDAA,” he added.

“I have had a number of conversations with Senators on both sides of the aisle and there seems to be fairly broad support for doing so, which would enable a USICA negotiation with the House to be completed alongside NDAA before the end of the year,” he continued.

The Senate passed USICA back in June, greenlighting a bill that aims to boost national investment and semiconductor manufacturing and supply chain, as well as investments in the National Science Foundation (NSF) and cybersecurity.

After making its way out of the Senate in early June, the legislation stalled in the House. Rather than passing USICA, the House passed two alternatives: the NSF for the Future Act and the Department of Energy for the Future Act. By including USICA as an NDAA amendment, Senators can open a path to passing the legislation this calendar year after all movement on the trio of bills had seemingly stalled.

“One of the core goals of USICA is bolstering U.S. domestic manufacturing and supply chains,” Sen. Schumer said. “The funding and policies included in USICA will help alleviate the supply chain challenges facing our small business and consumers on a daily basis, making its passage this year critical.”

USICA won’t be the only tech-related amendment to find its way into the FY2022 NDAA, as there are a slate of big cyber bills that lawmakers are looking to include as an amendment to this year’s defense spending act.

Lawmakers are also looking to include both the Cyber Incident Reporting Act and the Federal Information Security Modernization Act (FISMA) of 2021 – an update to the 2014 version of FISMA – in the final version of the bill.

The FY2022 NDAA already passed the House with tech amendments like the creation of a National Digital Reserve Corps, term limits for the Office of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency director, and Plum Book modernization. If USICA is added to the version of the NDAA that ends up passing the Senate, the bill will need to go back to the House before final approval.

“As you can see, we still have much work to do to close out what will be a very successful year of legislative accomplishments,” Sen. Schumer concluded. “I am confident we can get each of these important items done this year, but it will likely take some long nights and weekends.”

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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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