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Window on Washington – November 21, 2022, Vol. 6, Issue 44

November 21, 2022

Outlook for This Week in the Nation’s Capital

Congress.  The House and Senate are both in recess this week. When the Senate returns next week, it will hold a procedural vote on a bill to codify the right to same-sex marriage. The House’s legislative schedule for next week has not yet been announced but Congress will be focused on passing government funding, the National Defense Authorization Act, and a host of other lingering priorities in December.

118th Congress.  Republicans officially won control of the House of Representatives last week. The control of the House is currently 218-212, with five races uncalled. Forecasters expect the GOP to win between 2 and 4 of the uncalled races. House Republicans held their leadership elections last week and began discussing what rules changes would take effect in January. Senate Republicans held their leadership elections last week, with the incumbents keeping the top positions. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) won the nomination to be the GOP choice for Speaker, while Steve Scalise (R-LA) rose to incoming Majority Leader, Tom Emmer (R-MN) was selected to be Majority Whip, and Elise Stefanik (R-NY) will keep her position as Conference Chair. House Republicans postponed a planned vote to ban earmarks in the next Congress until after Thanksgiving. House Democrats will hold their leadership elections this week, with a complete transition of leadership expected after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced plans to not run for reelection to their leadership posts in the new congress. Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Katherine Clark (D-MA), and Pete Aguilar (D-CA) are expected to be elected to the top slots, respectively, for their caucus. Senate Democrats will hold their elections in December. New data emerging from analysis of the mid-term elections suggests two groups to watch that will have potentially disproportionate impact in the House next year:  the 16-18 (subject to final results) Republicans now representing districts that voted for Joe Biden (Axios)and five Democrats representing districts that voted for Donald Trump (Axios).  In a narrowly divided House, these moderates could hold significant leverage to impact each party’s agenda.

FY23 Appropriations. The White House last week sent a request for $37B in supplemental appropriations to Ukraine, nearly $10B to continue to combat COVID-19, and a to-be-determined amount for hurricane relief efforts. Some factions of the GOP are already calling for an audit of Ukraine spending, which increases pressure to include any additional funding in the upcoming omnibus bill being negotiated. Congressional appropriators will continue to negotiate behind the scenes ahead of a Dec. 16th deadline. Senate Appropriations Chair Pat Leahy (D-VT) last week said he is optimistic negotiators will soon reach a deal on topline spending numbers. It is possible Congress will need to pass a short-term Continuing Resolution that lasts closer to Christmas in order to give negotiators more time to reach a deal.

Defense Authorization.  House Armed Services Chair Adam Smith (D-WA) and Ranking Member Mike Rogers (R-AL) both predicted a final version of the National Defense Authorization Act may be ready for a vote as soon as the first week of December. Smith and Rogers met with their Senate counterparts, Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI) and Ranking Member Jim Inhofe (R-OK) last week. The Senate has not yet passed its version of the NDAA.

Biden Administration.  Yesterday was President Biden’s 80th birthday. Later today he will pardon two turkeys. Biden will then travel to Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point in North Carolina for a Thanksgiving dinner before returning to DC. Biden will travel to Nantucket tomorrow, where he will spend the rest of the week.

Last Week in the Nation’s Capital


Budget & Appropriations

Lawmakers Face Funding Crunch Before Expected GOP Takeover of House: Lawmakers are facing a serious time crunch to hash out government funding for fiscal 2023 as they return to the Capitol with Republicans poised to take a narrow House majority. Congress has until Dec. 16 to agree on new funding levels to avert a government shutdown. And while they can punt the deadline if negotiations require more time, lawmakers on both sides have been adamant that Congress finish its work before January, when a new Congress will be sworn in. (The Hill)

Democrats Mull Debt Limit Options as Lame-Duck Window Narrows: Democrats want to address the debt limit before this Congress — and likely their control in Washington — ends at the close of the year. They’re aiming to strike a bipartisan deal to address the debt ceiling during the lame-duck period, which could ride on an omnibus spending package if lawmakers can get one done. But it’s unclear if enough Senate Republicans will accept a deal, and Democrats are also discussing using the budget reconciliation process to act on their own. (Roll Call)

Murray Seeking to be Second Appropriations Chairwoman: Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) is officially pursuing the top seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee. “Next Congress, Senator Murray intends to pursue the Appropriations Committee gavel. As Chair, Murray would continue to do what she has done her entire career: put working families and Washington state first.” (The Hill)


Senators Introduce Bill to Lower Prescription Costs for Seniors with Chronic Illnesses: Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced a bill that would allow people enrolled in the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) to choose their prescription drug plan under Medicare Part D and save more in monthly medication costs. (The Hill)

Markey Introduces Legislation to Improve Tech Access for Americans with Disabilities: Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced new legislation that aims to improve access to communications technology for Americans with disabilities to ensure they have equal opportunities in an increasingly online world. (The Hill)

Sanders to Seek Gavel of Senate Health Committee: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is pursuing the top spot on the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee now that Democrats are poised to maintain control of the Senate. (The Hill)

Senate Democrats Urge FDA to Ease Access to Abortion Pills: A group of Senate Democrats are calling on the Biden administration to make it easier for patients to have access to medication abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. (The Hill)

Senate Passes Marijuana Medication Bill: The Senate passed a bill that will expand research into the potential medical benefits of marijuana and CBD. The Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act was passed through unanimous consent by a voice vote and will now head to President Biden’s desk to be signed. (The Hill)


Republicans Will Be Back in Charge of House: Higher education lobbyists and policy experts expect to see lawsuits challenging student loan forgiveness from the new GOP majority and stepped-up oversight of the U.S. Department of Education with a goal of setting up the Republican Party to win in 2024. (Inside Higher Ed)

Banking & Housing

Senate Banking Committee Chair Brown Scrutinizes Banking Fees as Consumers Struggle with Inflation: The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs scrutinized predatory fees charged by banks and other financial institutions during an oversight hearing of regulators. Committee Chairman Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said the biggest banks and credit unions are doing well despite historic inflation and economic uncertainty. (CNBC)

Sherrod Brown is Considering a Senate Banking Hearing on the FTX Implosion: Senate Banking Chair Sherrod Brown he is considering a hearing on the FTX implosion, as congressional oversight of the debacle ramps up. “We’re thinking of a hearing,” Brown said on the Banking Committee’s response. “But most importantly we’re talking to [the] SEC, especially.” (Politico)

GOP Plans to Punish ‘Woke’ Wall Street: Republican lawmakers, who will be in the House majority come January, are pressing party leaders to send a message to big financial firms: Stop appeasing the left with “woke” business practices, keep financing fossil fuels and cut ties with China. Republicans will have committee gavels and subpoena powers to back that up. (Politico)


FTX Failure May Strengthen Case for More Robust Crypto Regulation: The spectacular collapse of major cryptocurrency exchange FTX is prompting calls for stronger regulation in Congress, where some bipartisan proposals are being characterized as too industry friendly. (Roll Call)

Elizabeth Warren Wants to Pass a Major Crypto Bill. Sherrod Brown says Not So Fast: The crypto meltdown triggered by digital currency exchange FTX is spurring bipartisan calls for legislation to set rules for the industry — but at least one powerful lawmaker is urging caution. Senate Banking Chair Sherrod Brown (D-OH) — an outspoken crypto critic — said Tuesday that he’s eyeing a hearing on the FTX debacle and has been in touch with the Securities and Exchange Commission about the meltdown. (Politico)

Sen. Gillibrand Says a Last-Ditch Stablecoin Bill May Still Emerge This Year: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said the latest effort on a stablecoin regulatory bill is coming soon, and she hopes it can get some attention before Congress transitions into its new session next year. She’s working with Republican Senators Patrick Toomey (PA) and Cynthia Lummis (WY) on “unique” legislation that will establish U.S. rules of the road for the tokens. Gillibrand and Lummis were the authors of one of the most prominent digital assets oversight bills this year, and this would represent a small piece of that larger effort. (CoinDesk)

House Panel Wants Internal Documents from Bankrupt Crypto Exchange FTX: A House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee is seeking internal documents and communications from Sam Bankman-Fried and FTX to understand how the crypto exchange collapsed so suddenly and what is being done to recover customer funds. In a letter, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, said he is requesting detailed information on the liquidity crisis facing FTX, the sudden decision to declare bankruptcy and what the company plans to do to “ensure that every single dollar is returned to American consumers who placed their trust in your company.” (CNN)

U.S. House Committee to Hold Hearing on Collapse of FTX: The U.S. House Financial Services Committee said it plans to hold a hearing in December to investigate the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX. The committee said it expects to hear from the companies and individuals involved, including FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, Alameda Research, Binance, FTX and related entities, among others. (Reuters)

Tax Reform

GOP Angling for Choice Ways and Means Seats Already Underway: At least 10 Republicans appear to be in the mix to fill open slots on the Ways and Means Committee in the next Congress, which could see a large influx of new GOP members if the party ultimately wins back the House. (Roll Call)

Grassley, Thune Lead Republican Colleagues In Introducing Legislation To Hold The IRS Accountable: Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and John Thune (R-SD) led their Republican colleagues on the Senate Finance Committee in introducing the IRS Funding Accountability Act. The legislation responds to the Democrats’ use of the so-called Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) that will infuse the IRS with $80 billion of new funding without any oversight measures to prevent waste, protect taxpayer rights or measure improvements of service. (Clark Hill Insight)


Senators Urge Regulators to ‘Put the Pedal to the Metal’ On Vehicle Safety Standards: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has been in effect for a full year, but federal transportation officials still haven’t implemented some of its most crucial safety provisions — and advocates and elected officials say its time they step up to stem the record-setting tide of traffic deaths on U.S. roads. Last week, a coalition of 10 Democratic Senators led by Ed Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) demanded that National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issue a progress report on a slate of congressionally mandated safety provisions outlined in the transportation bill, including more than a dozen common-sense vehicle safety regulations to combat drunk driving, motorist distraction, and more. (StreetsBlog)


Senators Tell DOD to Address ‘Bad Actors’ Among Military Landlords: After learning that one-third of the private landlords on U.S. military bases have failed to guarantee servicemembers a complete “tenant bill of rights” required by law, five senators have asked the Pentagon to force the companies to do so. (Roll Call)

Defense Negotiators Resist Adding Permitting to NDAA: Leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services committees were pessimistic Tuesday about Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) permitting reform package ending up in the annual defense authorization package. “Zero chance,” House Armed Services ranking member Mike Rogers (R-AL) said about the prospects of the West Virginia Democrat’s permitting reform push being in the fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act. “We’re doing everything we can to keep anything controversial out of this bill.” (E&E News)

McCarthy Threatens to Hold Up Key Defense Bill Until Next Year:  Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is threatening to delay passage of the fiscal 2023 defense-authorization bill until January when Republicans take control of the House – and likely make him speaker.  Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has decided to cancel a floor vote on the upper chamber’s version of the legislation and instead proceed directly to a compromise bill with the House. This would mark the second year in a row that the Senate has not held a vote on its own version of the bill.  (Defense News)

Smith Rips McCarthy Call to Delay Defense Bill: House Armed Services Chair Adam Smith (D-WA) slammed Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Wednesday after the GOP chief called for delaying passage of the defense policy bill until next year. Smith warned that deferring an agreement on the already-late National Defense Authorization Act, which outlines a major boost to the Pentagon budget and prescribes military policy, would undercut national security. (Politico)

Homeland Security & Immigration

Democrats Call Protections for ‘Dreamers’ a Lame-Duck Priority: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told a group of immigrant advocates and reporters at an event Wednesday that his “focus is on Dreamers,” or undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children, during the waning weeks of this Congress. Schumer, who controls the Senate’s agenda, has said that members of his party were working on legislation to help these immigrants and seeking to reach a deal in the lame duck, while the Democratic party still controls the House. (Roll Call)

Cruz Fights DC Push to Let Illegal Immigrants Vote with Bill to Withhold Federal Funding: Sen. Ted Cruz (D-TX) introduced a new bill that would prohibit Washington, D.C., from using federal funds to allow illegal immigrants to vote in elections. (Fox News) 

Texas Democrats Ask Feds to ‘Intervene’ Against Greg Abbott’s ‘Invasion’ Declaration: Six House Democrats from Texas called on the Biden administration to exercise federal authority against Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R-TX) declaration of an “invasion” at the U.S.-Mexico border. (The Hill)

DHS Eyes New Ways to Bar Venezuelans From Entering U.S. After Fall of Title 42: The U.S. will continue to explore ways to block Venezuelan migrants from seeking to enter the country after a court struck down the Title 42 policy that allows the government to expel would-be asylum-seekers. (The Hill)


Bipartisan Senate Report Finds Medical Mistreatment of Women in Detention Centers: A bipartisan Senate report found that women at a Georgia detention center were abused through “unnecessary gynecological procedures,” sometimes without their consent, by a doctor who was allegedly improperly vetted. (The Hill)

Senate Democrats Plan Spree of Judicial Confirmations in Lame Duck: Senate Democrats plan to confirm dozens of President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees before the end of the year, even though Democrats in November’s elections retained control of the chamber’s judicial confirmation process. (Roll Call)

Taylor Swift Ticket Snafu Caused by Ticketmaster Abusing Its Market Power, Senate Antitrust Chair says: Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) criticized Ticketmaster in an open letter to its CEO, saying she has “serious concerns” about the company’s operations following a service meltdown that left Taylor Swift fans irate. (CNN)

Senate Moves Closer to Passing Same-Sex Marriage Bill: The Senate on Thursday voted to begin debate on a bill to codify same-sex marriage protections that the Supreme Court granted in 2015. Senators in a procedural vote advanced the legislation, known as the Respect for Marriage Act, in a 53-23 vote. (The Hill)


Kids’ Privacy Online Gets Year-End Push in Congress: Lawmakers from both parties who back stricter rules for handling kids’ data and accounts online see an opening in the last lame-duck weeks of this Congress. Passing a national online consumer privacy bill continues to be out of Congress’ reach but protecting young people online has been one of the few areas in recent decades where Congress has been able to pass new tech regulations. (Axios)

Federal Software Bill Gets House Companion Amid Lame-Duck Push: A late-session push for passage of a Federal government software bill kicked into higher gear with the introduction in the House of the Strengthening Agency Management and Oversight of Software Assets Act. (MeriTalk)

Environment & Interior

Maryland Lawmakers Propose Making Chesapeake Bay A National Park: The Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the U.S., could become a part of the nation’s park system, potentially bringing in more federal resources, expanding public access, and bolstering conservation efforts. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) introduced draft legislation that would create a unified Chesapeake National Recreation Area — essentially, linking key sites around the Bay under the coordinated brand of the Park Service. (DCist)

Some Republicans Show Appetite for a Manchin deal on Permitting Reform: A handful of Republican lawmakers appear open to working with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) on his push for permitting reform despite tensions between the West Virginia Democrat and the GOP caucus.  Manchin has been pushing for policies that speed up the approval process for energy projects in order to build out more energy infrastructure. (The Hill)

U.S. Republicans Aim to Shorten EV Mine Permitting After House Win: Republicans will seek to boost American production of lithium, copper and other electric-vehicle metals after the U.S. midterm elections gave them narrow control of the House of Representatives and the power to influence how regulators approve or deny mining projects. (Reuters)

Incoming GOP Natural Resources Committee Chair says ‘I Don’t Want to Get Boxed In’ Solely Focusing on Climate Change: Incoming House Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-AR) outlined his priorities for a Republican-majority committee on a call with reporters Thursday afternoon, identifying potential areas of bipartisan agreement but saying he did not believe climate change to be the House panel’s sole charge. (The Hill)


FERC Chairman’s Term Could End as Manchin Balks at Renomination: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said he is not comfortable holding a hearing on the renomination of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Richard Glick, which means the Democratic commissioner’s tenure is likely to end Dec. 31 after more than five years. (Roll Call)

House Republicans Prepare Big Energy Package for 2023: House Republican leaders said the party is preparing an energy and environment package that could emerge in January as one of the first pieces of major legislation passed by the GOP-controlled chamber. Largely based on legislation already put forward by the top Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee, Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), and the Natural Resources Committee’s top Republican, Bruce Westerman (R-AR), the package would seek to unleash domestic fossil fuel production along with critical mineral mining. (E&E News)



Budget & Appropriations

White House Requests $37.7 Billion in New Ukraine Funding, $10 Billion for Covid Relief: The White House is requesting nearly $40 billion in new funding from Congress to support Ukraine and an additional $10 billion for pandemic relief. The figure includes $21.7 billion for defense purposes like equipment and military support, $14.5 billion in direct funding for the country’s government and humanitarian aid, $626 million in energy assistance and $900 million for health care. (CNBC)

White House’s Hopes for a Lame-Duck Debt Ceiling Deal are Fading Fast: The White House has largely given up hope of Congress raising the nation’s debt limit during the lame-duck session that runs through late December, increasing the risk of a highly partisan, market-rattling fiscal confrontation next year. (Politico)

Department of Education

Biden Pushed to Extend Student Loan Payment Pause Amid Debt Forgiveness Roadblocks: President Biden is under pressure to extend the pandemic-era student loan payment pause into next year while the administration faces legal challenges to its forgiveness plan, which is currently no longer accepting applications. (The Hill)

Biden Administration Warns of ‘Historically Large Increase’ in Student Loan Defaults Without Debt Forgiveness: Student loan default rates could spike as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and if the Biden administration’s loan forgiveness plan is blocked, a top official for the U.S. Department of Education said in a new court filing. (CNBC)

Biden Administration to Make It Easier to Shed Student Debt in Bankruptcy: The Biden administration will make it easier for student borrowers in financial distress to discharge their loans in bankruptcy. Currently, it’s hard for people who declare bankruptcy to get their student debt erased, with debtors having to prove in a separate proceeding that paying their college loans would impose an “undue hardship.” One study found that only 0.1% of people with student loans who filed for bankruptcy protection even tried to get their higher education debt discharged. (CBS News)

U.S. Asks Supreme Court to Clear Path for Student Debt Program: The Biden administration asked the Supreme Court Friday to lift a lower court order and allow it to continue a program to forgive up to $20,000 in student loan debt for millions of borrowers. The administration asked the justices to vacate a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit that paused the forgiveness program while six Republican-led states pursue a legal challenge. The lawsuit is one of several ongoing court fights over the forgiveness program, which President Joe Biden announced in August. (Roll Call)

Education Department Sends Mass Notices to Borrowers: The Education Department is sending mass notices to borrowers who were approved for student loan forgiveness as a result of alleged school misconduct. Hundreds of thousands of borrowers will not have to pay back their student loans under a group discharge initiative. (Forbes)

Banking & Housing/HUD

White House to Nominate Gruenberg as FDIC Chair: The White House announced its intent to nominate Martin Gruenberg to be chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., giving the Democrat another turn at the head of the bank regulator’s board. (Politico)

Consumer Agency Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Review Case that Invalidated Its Funding: The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau asked the U.S. Supreme Court to undo a ruling by an appeals court that held the agency’s funding structure unconstitutional, saying the decision “threatens to inflict immense legal and practical harms” on consumers and the financial sector. (Reuters)


FAA Does Not Expect to Certify Boeing 737 MAX 7 Before End of Year: Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen said it “does not appear” the 737 MAX 7 will be certified by the end of the year. Boeing is seeking a waiver from Congress of a December deadline imposing a new safety standard for modern cockpit alerts for the 737 MAX 7 and 737 MAX 10. Nolen said it is his sense the FAA cannot continue any certification work on the airplanes after late December without action from Congress. (Reuters)

Buttigieg says ‘We’re Not Out of the Woods’ on Holiday Travel Prep: Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said that travel infrastructure has improved since the country saw flight cancellation spikes and other strains this summer but that there’s still more to do to get the sector ready for the looming holiday travel surge. (The Hill)


New Satellite Will Allow First-Ever Observation of Nearly All of Earth’s Water: NASA is looking to launch its first satellite mission to observe Earth’s water in collaboration with France’s space agency. The Surface Water and Ocean Topography, or SWOT, satellite will use advanced radar interferometry technology to measure the height of water in lakes, rivers, reservoirs and oceans. (NextGov)

NASA Launches Its New Moon Rocket for 1st Time: NASA’s Space Launch System rocket took flight for the first time Wednesday, ushering in a new era of exploration for the space agency. This uncrewed launch — called Artemis I — is expected to pave the way for NASA to one day send astronauts to the Moon for the first time since the end of the Apollo program in the 1970s. (Axios)

NOAA Building ‘Digital Twin’ of Earth to Study Climate Change: A collaboration between the private and public sectors will produce a digital twin of planet Earth, fueled by current meteorological data, to help researchers and policymakers access advanced visualizations of current––and past––weather patterns. (NextGov)

The First Cubesat to Fly and Operate at the Moon Has Successfully Arrived: After a journey of nearly five months, taking it far beyond the Moon and back, the little CAPSTONE spacecraft has successfully entered into lunar orbit. This is an important orbit for NASA, and a special one, because it is really stable, requiring just a tiny amount of propellant to hold position. At its closest point to the Moon, this roughly week-long orbit passes within 3,000 km of the lunar surface, and at other points it is 70,000 km away. NASA plans to build a small space station, called the Lunar Gateway, here later this decade. (Ars Technica)

Japan Extends ISS Commitment to 2030, Reaffirms Artemis Contributions: Japan has formally agreed to continue participation in the International Space Station through 2030, the first of the ISS partners to officially join the United States in that commitment. The two countries also reaffirmed their partnership in the Artemis program. Japan will provide critical equipment for the Gateway space station that will orbit the Moon and the United States will launch a Japanese astronaut there, extending the long history of Japanese astronauts participating in NASA missions. (Space Policy Online)

EPIC for NOAAs Future Earth Prediction System: A new article, written by a group of current and former NOAA leaders and published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society details how the Earth Prediction Innovation Center (EPIC) is working to unify community weather modeling and advance numerical weather prediction using open-source and open-science methods. The authors say that NOAA remains 100% committed to the EPIC vision and is now inviting partners from across the weather enterprise through its web portal, and community workshops and events to engage in this unified effort to advance weather prediction for the benefit of society. (NOAA/AMS)


Army Preps for ‘Contested Logistics,’ Works to Boost Arms Production: Enemies can be expected to target U.S. supply lines in tomorrow’s wars—with drones, cyber-attacks, and other new methods—so the Army and DARPA are working to stay a step ahead. (Defense One)

Is the Pentagon Changing Fast Enough?  The Pentagon is saying all the right things when it comes to defense innovation but real, lasting change isn’t evident just yet, according to two former defense insiders.  They believe that while there are promising things that are being experimented with, they are not getting in the hands of the warfighter yet because of this lag time between a decision to produce something and to actually reach initial operating capability and then produce it in numbers.  (Defense One)

DOD Fails Another Audit but Makes Progress:  The Defense Department has failed its fifth-ever audit, unable to account for more than half of its assets, but the effort is being viewed as a “teachable moment,” according to its chief financial officer.  After 1,600 auditors combed through DOD’s $3.5 trillion in assets and $3.7 trillion in liabilities, officials found that the department couldn’t account for about 61 percent of its assets, according to Pentagon Comptroller Mike McCord.  (The Hill)

DHS & Immigration

DHS Is Deploying More Employees to the Border, and Some Are Growing Tired of It: A group of Homeland Security Department workers is imploring the Biden administration, Congress, its agency inspector general and anyone who will listen to no longer require them to go to the southern border to boost resources there amid a record uptick in migrant crossings. (GovExec)


FBI, DHS Leaders Warn of ‘Substantial’ Risks of Targeted Violence: National security leaders last Tuesday stressed the ongoing threat posed by domestic extremism, terrorism and foreign countries as GOP lawmakers homed in on the southern border. (The Hill)


DHS Chief Appears to Back Status Quo Approach for Securing Critical Infrastructure: Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas suggested U.S. cybersecurity policy should continue to rely on critical-services providers voluntarily implementing measures to protect their operations from cyberattacks. (NextGov)

Wray Tells Lawmakers that FBI Conducts Cyber Offensive Operations: FBI Director Christopher Wray told Senate lawmakers on Thursday that his agency has been conducting offensive cyber operations against state and non-state cyber actors. Wray said offensive operations are one of many tactics the agency employs to counter various cyber threats. (The Hill)

Watchdog says Agency Overseeing Cybersecurity for Offshore Energy Falling Short: The federal enforcement office that oversees more than 1,600 offshore oil and gas facilities has done little to address growing cybersecurity risks, according to a watchdog report released on Thursday. (CyberScoop)

Agencies Push Deadline to Comment on Would-Be Federal Cyber Insurance Program: The Treasury Department and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency extended their original deadline—Monday—to Dec. 14 for receiving public comment on whether federal funds should be used to help insure the provision of critical infrastructure against losses from cyberattacks, and if so, how a federal insurance program might be designed.  The agencies announced the extension in a Nov. 9 notice published in the Federal Register. (Next Gov)

Biden Set to Approve Expansive Authorities for Pentagon to Carry Out Cyber Operations: The Defense Department has largely won out in a long-running bureaucratic battle with the State Department over retaining its broad powers to launch cyber operations, according to two sources familiar with the matter.  While the exact details of which authorities the Pentagon retains to carry out cyber operations are classified, sources familiar with the matter said it succeeded in holding onto key parts of broad authorities the Trump administration granted DOD in 2018. (Cyberscoop)

Big Tech Tells CISA to Exempt Third-Party Providers from Incident Reporting Rule: Providers of commercial information and communications technology shouldn’t be required to report cybersecurity incidents to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a trade association for some of the largest such companies told the agency, which is leading a rulemaking process to implement an incident reporting law for critical infrastructure.  In comments the Information Technology Industry Council promoted in a press release Tuesday, the group, which includes companies like Microsoft, CISCO and Zoom, argued “scoping should be consistent with a national criticality assessment.” (Next Gov)

FBI Head says China Has ‘Stolen More’ U.S. Data ‘Than Every Other Nation Combined’: “China’s vast hacking program is the world’s largest, and they have stolen more Americans’ personal and business data than every other nation combined,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said at the House Homeland Security Committee’s annual worldwide threats hearing.  Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and National Counterterrorism Center Director Christine Abizaid also testified at the hearing. (The Hill)


Vilsack Sees Farmers Keeping Climate on Congressional Agenda: Farmers’ interest will keep climate on the congressional agenda regardless of whether Republicans, who have said the issue is not a priority, win control of the House, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. (Roll Call)

USDA Proposes Science-Driven Updates to Foods Provided Through WIC: USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service is announcing proposed changes to the foods prescribed to participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC. (Clark Hill Insight)

Department of Energy

White House Asks Congress for $500 Million to Modernize Oil Reserve: The Biden administration has asked Congress for $500 million to modernize the U.S. strategic petroleum reserve (SPR). If approved by Congress, the request, issued by the White House on Tuesday, provides the Department of Energy (DOE) with funding to improve the four SPR sites along the Texas and Louisiana coasts. (Reuters)

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