Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Review - S 3451 Passed in Senate – Cyber Permitting

Yesterday, the Senate passed S 3451, a bill to include certain computer-related projects in the Federal permitting program under title XLI of the FAST Act. The bill was passed on the same day it was introduced. It was considered under the Senate’s unanimous consent process with no debate and no vote. It adds a variety of computer related projects to the potential oversight and coordination of the Federal Permitting Improvement Council.


The very short bill (1 section, eight lines) amends the definition of the term ‘covered project’ in 42 USC 4370m(6). It inserts the phrase: “semiconductors, artificial intelligence and machine learning, high-performance computing and advanced computer hardware and software, quantum information science and technology, data storage and data management, cybersecurity,” in paragraph (A).

Moving Forward

With the quick movement of this bill through the Senate, it would seem that this bill has a large measure of bipartisan support. If the bill is taken up quickly in the House, it would likely be considered under the suspension of the rules process. There would be limited debate and it would require a supermajority for passage. Unless something develops between now and the time it is taken up in the House it is likely to pass.

Of course, priorities in the House are not the same as the priorities in the Senate, even when both are ‘controlled’ by the same party. It will be interesting to see if this bill makes its way to the floor of the House.


It is unusual for a bill to be introduced and passed on the same day. This typically means that there is widespread consensus on both the provisions of the bill and quick movement to passage. What is unusual here is that I have seen no indication of any ‘large scale critical infrastructure’ cyber project that has been held up by the federal environmental permitting process. While I could imagine a new, and very large, semiconductor manufacturing facility running into such problems, that type of facility would have already been covered by the ‘manufacturing’ provision in the existing language.

For more details about the provisions of this bill, see my article at CFSN Detailed Analysis - https://patrickcoyle.substack.com/p/s-3451-passed-in-senate - subscription required.

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