Government Relations Update November 2023

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By Sam Burns, Internet2 Policy Advisor

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Government Funded Into Early 2024

On November 16, President Biden signed a funding bill to prevent a government shutdown through the winter. This continuing resolution (Pub. L. 118-22) is unusual in that it is two-tiered. 

The first tier addresses funding for four of the normal twelve appropriations bills, namely Agriculture, Energy and Water, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. This provides a temporary continuation of funding for the Department of Energy, including its Office of Science, in addition to several other federal agencies at Fiscal Year 2023 levels through Jan. 19, 2024.

The second tier provides a continuation of funding at Fiscal Year 2023 levels for all remaining federal agencies and programs, including the National Science Foundation and the Department of Education, through Feb. 2, 2024.

While this legislation was able to temporarily prevent a government shutdown, it remains unclear if an agreement to settle funding for Fiscal Year 2024 once and for all is possible in the allotted time. The House is currently scheduled to leave Washington, D.C. for its holiday recess on December 14, and the Senate is scheduled to adjourn for the year on December 15. That leaves a small window of time for House and Senate leadership to agree to a framework that appropriations leaders in both chambers can use to prepare full funding legislation before the first deadline on January 19. As it stands, it seems likely that another temporary funding measure may be required to buy enough time to forge consensus.

FCC Proposes Schools and Libraries Cybersecurity Pilot

On November 13, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed the creation of a new Schools and Libraries Cybersecurity Pilot Program. The proposal outlines a $200 million investment over three years to enable the FCC to support a select group of schools and libraries to utilize specially selected cybersecurity and advanced firewall tools. The FCC’s goal will be to gather data from participants about what cybersecurity and advanced firewall services may be of the greatest benefit to K-12 schools and libraries. The pilot would be operated under the Universal Service Fund but would be separate from the existing E-Rate program to avoid diverting funds already dedicated to assisting schools and libraries in other ways.

The FCC included a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) with the announcement of this proposal seeking public input on how the Commission can best execute this concept. Once the NPRM is officially published in the Federal Register there will be a 30 day period for filing comments with the FCC. The public will have until 60 days after the publication in the Federal Register to file reply comments.