December Government Affairs Update

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December Government Affairs Update

Earlier this month our country lost a statesman, war hero — former United States Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-KS) at the age of 98. Senator Dole was one of the greatest in the Greatest Generation of World War II veterans who have long inspired our country with their dignity, determination and courage.

During his years in office, Senator Dole was instrumental in authoring and working across the aisle with the late Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and was adept at working in a bipartisan way on pragmatic pieces of legislation to support veterans, seniors and creating greater opportunity to achieve the American Dream for all of our country’s citizens.

Our support and prayers go to his wife, former Senator Elizabeth Dole, his family and all of his colleagues who worked and served beside him.

As the end of the year quickly approaches, the U.S. Congress is working to finalize major pieces of legislation and Congressional actions. They not only involve part of the Administration’s agenda, but also key operational activities of our nation.

Government Shutdown
At the beginning of this month, the U.S. Congress agreed to short-term stopgap measure averting a government shutdown. The bipartisan agreement funds the government through February 18th of 2022. The U.S. Senate voted to approve the extension on a bipartisan vote and the House quickly followed suit and passed it with a slim bipartisan vote.

The president has signed the measure into law.

The U.S. Congress must again vote to continue funding the government once this runs out in February of 2022.

To learn more about this process, please visit here.

Administration Announces Reforms to Increase in Federal Contracting Equity
On December 2nd, the Biden Administration announced the enactment of Small Business Administration (SBA) supported reforms to federal contracting regulations for qualified minority-owned business. Among other items in the reforms, the Administration has directed federal agencies to “increase their goals so that government-wide spending results in 11 percent of contracting dollars being awarded to small, disadvantaged businesses, up from the current statutory goal of 5 percent.”

SBA Administrator Guzman said in a statement that the new reforms will “help boost access to $560 billion in contracting opportunities for disadvantaged small businesses.” Administrator Guzman went on to say, “Today’s historic release of federal contracting data disaggregated by race, ethnicity, and geography, and our corresponding reforms to federal strategic sourcing strategies known as ‘category management,’ will help guarantee greater transparency and accountability in federal contracting and put more small businesses in a position to start doing business with the United States government.”

You can read the Fact Sheet from the White House detailing the new reforms, here.

The Debt Ceiling Limit
In November, Secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellin, warned Congress they needed to raise the U.S. debt limit by December 15th. The debt limit is the total amount of money the U.S. is allowed to borrow to pay its bills and meet its financial obligations. It represents payments on the money the U.S. has already spent — it does not authorize new spending.

If the debt limit is not raised, our nation will default on the current borrowing it has engaged in to pay for its spending. The Senate continues to work towards an agreement intended to avoid a default on America’s loans.

To learn more about this debate, visit here (NYT subscription required).

National Defense Authorization Act
The U.S. Congress is also expected to take up the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) before the end of the year. Both the U.S. Senate and the House are negotiating a compromise agreement for its bill that sets the annual policy for the military.

This year’s bill is set to authorize $770 billion in military spending, including priorities such as pay increases for military personnel to spending on new war ships and aircraft and other targeted priorities.

To read more about this policy, visit here.

Build Back Better Legislation
As reported in the last Washington Watch, the House has approved its version of the Build Back Better social spending package. However, the Senate has not yet acted as they are still negotiating internally on its version and spending priorities. They expect to vote on the legislation by the end of the year.

Once it is approved, the House and Senate will once again vote to reconcile the two versions before sending it to the president.

To learn about the bill’s progress, visit here.

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