House and Senate Appropriations Committees today unveiled a full-year omnibus spending bill covering Federal government operations for the rest of fiscal year (FY) 2022 that ends on Sept. 30.

The $1.5 trillion spending bill includes funding boosts for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), as well as additional money for a variety of cybersecurity initiatives at several Federal agencies.

With congressional Democrats set to go on a retreat Wednesday evening, the House Rules Committee also advanced rules for a four-day continuing budget resolution (CR) as a backup plan to extend government spending authority in the event that the omnibus spending bill is not approved by March 11, when government funding is currently set to run out.

The House is expected to pass the appropriations and CR Wednesday evening. The short-term CR also should give the Senate enough time to pass the appropriations bill and avoid a government shutdown.

“This is, I believe, a historic moment,” House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., told the House Rules Committee.

“It’s a $1.5 trillion package before us,” she continued. “In fact, it is the largest increase for non-defense discretionary funding in four years – it’s a 6.7 percent increase that will have a real impact in the lives of everyday Americans. In the defense portion of the bill, which I support very strongly and which is robust is at 5.6 percent. But we have not seen an increase in non-defense discretionary spending in a number of years.”

A deal on an omnibus bill to fund government operations through Sept. 30 had been elusive, leading to a trio of continuing resolutions before an agreement on the framework of the appropriations legislation was reached Feb. 9. The most recent CR is currently set to run out at the end of the week, leading to the House Rules Committee to push through one more short-term CR that would extend funding for four more days – to March 15.

Cyber Funding Boosts for CISA

The omnibus spending bill for the remainder of FY2022 includes $2.6 billion to fund CISA for the year, which amounts to a $568.7 million increase over FY2021 levels, and $460 million more than included in President Biden’s FY2022 budget request. The funding increase would be used “to protect our critical physical infrastructure, prevent cyber-attacks and root out cyber intrusions,” according to a summary of the bill.

The CISA funding includes additional money for threat hunting and vulnerability management programs, $38 million in total for the Multi-State Information and Analysis Center, and $357.8 million total for the agency’s Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) program. CISA also would get additional funding for infrastructure security and integrated operations; emergency communications; risk management; and stakeholder engagement.

Elsewhere on the cyber funding front, the Departments of Energy (DOE) and Treasury each are due to receive more money to bulk up cyber operations.

DOE will receive $185.8 million for Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response purposes, which is an increase of $29.8 million. DOE also will get additional funding for energy and electricity resiliency purposes.

The omnibus spending bill also gives Treasury $161 million for its Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and $80 million for its Cybersecurity Enhancement Account. The former is a $34 million boost over FY2021 levels as the unit goes harder after crimes involving cryptocurrency. The latter is a $62 million year-over-year increase “to address the impacts of the SolarWinds attack and minimize the impact of future attacks,” appropriators said.

R&D and Other Tech

In addition to additional funding for cybersecurity measures, the bill includes funding boosts to various research and development outputs, including $3.87 billion to fund the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

DARPA isn’t the only research and development outfit receiving significant funding. The bill also includes $1 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services to establish the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H). Those projects would center on disease-focused scientific breakthroughs. DOE would also receive $450 million for its Advanced Research Projects Agency.

The bill also makes an investment in critical infrastructure and rural broadband, including $7.9 billion in loan authority for rural electric and telephone infrastructure loans, and a $550 million investment to increase the availability of rural broadband.

The Department of Defense (DoD) will also receive funding to focus on developing artificial intelligence and a workforce to handle it. DoD would receive $200 million for an Artificial Intelligence Development Fund and $50 million to build an AI-focused workforce.

What’s Next

While the omnibus bill is now complete and ready to take to the floor, the short-term CR may be a way to simply assure that funding does not lapse should this process take longer than the end of this week.

The bill is expected to pass the House Wednesday evening, but getting the Senate ready to go may take more than the two days remaining before Federal funding runs out.

There has been little visible appetite among lawmakers for a Federal government shutdown, and the bill also includes funding for Ukraine, so it is expected to find its way to President Biden’s desk before long.

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Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.