NDAA Passes House—What’s in, What’s Out
The $847 billion National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2023 passed the House 350 to 80 last week and now heads to the Senate. All eyes are on the NDAA as it’s one of the 117th Congress’ last must-pass measures.
Included in the House-passed version of the defense bill is a reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act of 2022. A vital piece of bipartisan, biennial legislation, the WRDA supports water projects ranging from flood control and navigation to ecosystem restoration and invasive species mitigation. The WRDA helps maintain a strong water infrastructure system, including ports and waterways, and supports the nation’s economic growth and global competitiveness. NCSL joined several other stakeholders in supporting passage of the act, which is summarized here.
While it was speculated that permitting reform might have been included in the must-pass defense authorization bill, no agreement was reached and the NDAA passed without its inclusion. That said, NCSL supports an overarching goal of streamlining federal regulatory review processes but has significant concerns with the permitting proposals in Congress that would further preempt existing state authority to certify infrastructure projects. NCSL will continue to advocate on behalf of states as conversations surrounding permitting reform continue in the 118th Congress.
Provisions that would allow state-legal cannabis businesses to access the banking system were also omitted from the House-passed NDAA. The bipartisan Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2021 (HR 1996) was passed by the House in July and was originally included as an amendment to the NDAA. The act would allow financial institutions to provide banking services to legitimate state-authorized cannabis-related businesses. NCSL has advocated strongly in favor of the SAFE Banking Act and will continue to support its provisions in the next Congress.
The NDAA authorizes $12.6 billion to cover the increased costs of purchases. Though the inflation adjustment is only 1.5% of the bill’s total funding, it’s a clear sign that inflation is impacting fiscal policy. Similar adjustments across the entire federal budget will affect programming already stretched for resources, especially as Congress seeks to negotiate a final fiscal year 2023 appropriations package.
NCSL will continue to monitor and report on the NDAA as it moves through the Senate.
NCSL Contacts: NCSL contacts: Kristen Hildreth (WRDA, permitting); Erlinda Doherty (SAFE Banking Act); Brian Wanko (general fiscal)
REAL ID Compliance Pushed to 2025
The Department of Homeland Security extended the REAL ID’s full enforcement date from May 3, 2023, to May 7, 2025, giving states additional time to ensure residents have state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards that meet security standards established by the REAL ID Act. The extension comes as states manage the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on people’s ability to obtain a REAL ID driver’s license or identification card. All 50 states, the District of Columbia and four territories are issuing REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses. American Samoa’s is in “review” status. According to data from the U.S. Travel Association, as of May 2022 more than 137 million REAL IDs have been issued nationwide, representing 49% of state-issued IDs in circulation. Read more.
NCSL Contact: Kristen Hildreth
Biden Administration Appeals Ruling on Title 42 Border Expulsions
The Biden administration filed notice on Dec. 7 of appealing a federal judge’s ruling invalidating the government’s use of Title 42. The pandemic-era order has been used by the Trump and Biden administrations to block migrants, including asylum seekers, at the U.S.-Mexico border. Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled Title 42 was invalid in November, and gave the administration until Dec. 21 to end the practice. The goal of the appeal is to preserve the government’s ability to use Title 42 in the future, under the appropriate circumstances. The administration intends to comply with the deadline but wants the appellate court to rule that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had the legal authority to issue the order at the outset of the pandemic. Fifteen states have petitioned to intervene in the case to retain Title 42, claiming that ending the policy will increase migrant flows, imposing financial burdens on states that may end up involuntarily hosting migrants. If they are not permitted to intervene, the states may take the matter to the Supreme Court. Read more.
NCSL Contacts: Susan Frederick and Nicole Ezeh
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NCSL's Advocacy in Washington
NCSL’s Washington staff advocates on behalf of state legislatures before Congress, the White House and federal agencies in accord with the policy directives and resolutions that are recommended by the NCSL Standing Committees and adopted by the full conference at the annual NCSL Legislative Summit Business Meeting. As a result of the advocacy that is guided by these policies’ positions, NCSL is recognized as a formidable lobbying force in state-federal relations.