Government Relations Update May 2017
President Announces Federal Budget
The administration released its FY 2018 budget plan this month, outlining the president's fiscal priorities for the coming year. Congress will now review the budget proposal as it begins the process of drafting spending bills throughout the coming months. Similar to the FY 2018 Budget Blueprint released in March, the president's plan calls for spending cuts across government in most areas and spending increases for the Department of Defense and Homeland Security Department. The proposal also mentions that plans for a major $1 trillion infrastructure initiative are still being discussed. But the budget sets aside only $200 billion related to infrastructure plans and does not explain what parts of government this money would go to or how it would be spent. Some relevant proposed changes in discretionary spending are listed below.
FY 2018 Request Compared to FY 2017 Discretionary Funding Levels:
- Department of Energy: Reduction of $1.7 billion (5.6% decrease)
- National Science Foundation: Reduction of $800 million (10.7% decrease)
- Department of Commerce: Reduction of $1.5 billion (15.8% decrease)
- Department of Agriculture: Reduction of $4.6 billion (20.5% decrease)
- Department of Health and Human Services: Reduction of $12.7 billion (16.2% decrease)
- Other Agencies: Reduction of $2.6 billion (12.5% decrease)
- Overall Discretionary Spending: Reduction of $14.6 billion (1.4% decrease)
President Signs Cybersecurity Order
The president signed an executive order aimed at improving the nation's cybersecurity by seeking to "manage cybersecurity risk as an executive branch enterprise." The order directs federal agency heads to take responsibility for cybersecurity efforts by adopting the Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and providing a risk management report to the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget for review within 90 days. The order also calls a review of current efforts to protect critical infrastructure.
Redl Nominated as NTIA Administrator
The White House announced that the president would nominate David Redl to be the next Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Information and Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Redl previously served as chief counsel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Process of Unwinding Net Neutrality Rules Begins
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai's plan to roll back net neutrality rules took its first step forward on May 18. The commission voted 2-1 along party lines to advance Pai's Restoring Internet Freedom proposal, which would repeal current net neutrality protections. The vote opens a period of public input.
Blackburn Introduces Internet Privacy Bill
Last month, Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced the Balancing the Rights of Web Surfers Everywhere (BROWSER) Act. The bill would require broadband providers and internet companies trying to collect and sell consumer's digital data to first get their expressed consent. The bill, from the chairwoman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on technology and communications, is similar in some ways to the Federal Communications Commission's broadband privacy rules that Republicans and the president blocked earlier this year.
House Democrats Propose Infrastructure Bill
House Democrats introduced a bill, the "Leading Infrastructure for Tomorrow's America Act," that would fund at least $85 billion in infrastructure upgrades. The broadband provisions of the bill would provide $40 billion over five years to deploy secure and resilient broadband to expand access for communities nationwide while promoting security by design. Three quarters of the funding will be used to deploy broadband in unserved areas of the country through a national reverse auction. The remaining funds will be given to states to distribute through separate state-wide reverse auctions.
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