Thursday, November 18, 2021

Senate Amendments to HR 4350 – 11-17-21

Yesterday, the Senate voted 84-15 to close debate on whether to begin consideration of HR 4350, the FY 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This means that the process of considering potential amendments to that bill will begin today. Additionally, there were 49 new amendments offered for consideration; two of those amendments may be of interest there:

SA 4764 - Sen Menendez (D,NJ): DIVISION E: Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2021 [pg S8367] Similar to S 2902, and

SA 4769 - Sen Warnock (D,GA): SEC. xxx. Report on pathways for cyber and software engineering workforce growth. [pg S8380].


There has been discussion in the press (see here for example) about the possibility of a variety of cybersecurity measures being included in this bill during the amendment process, and I have certainly been documenting the wide variety of such amendments in this series of blog posts. Much of that discussion has been centered on the bipartisan nature of the support for these amendments.

While bipartisan support is generally a good thing, it is not a controlling factor in the decision to bring a proposed amendment to the floor of the Senate for consideration. As we have seen on a number of occasions, even near universal support for an amendment can be stymied by the objection of a single Senator. This is because, due to the rules of the Senate, consideration of an amendment typically requires unanimous consent. There are ways around this ‘typical’ process, but they are time consuming, and ‘time consuming’ in the Senate means a really-long time.

One Senator in particular, Sen Paul (R,WV), is well known for using this as a tactic for forcing the Senate to consider amendments of his that would not normally see a vote in the Senate. Even when he knows that there will not be near enough support in the body to approve his amendment, Paul can be counted upon to force at least one vote during the consideration of ‘must pass’ bills like this.

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