This Week In Washington

Latest news from Washington, D.C. produced by Total Spectrum/SGA exclusively for members of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry

More Info: Michael DiMaria | Partner and Vice President of Business Development | 602-717-3891 | [email protected]

Thanks for your interest in Washington, and thanks for reading This Week in Washington.

Heard on the Hill covers Monday’s leak of an early draft of the Supreme Court’s majority opinion on the upcoming Roe v. Wade case – and the security, legal, and political implications of both the leak and the ultimate decision. Al Jackson brings us his Defense Update, and features news on the Administration’s plans impacting Arizona’s Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Ramona Lessen monitored Tuesday’s hearing before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Cybersecurity on Artificial Intelligence Applications to Cyberspace Operations.

I just watched Congressman Erik Paulsen speak with Kevin Hassett for Total Spectrum Spotlight 2.0. As you may know, Mr. Hassett was the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors in the Trump Administration. He was also the economic advisor to the President George W. Bush’s 2004 campaign, Senator John McCain’s 2008 Presidential campaign, and Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign.

Congressman Paulsen’s interview with Kevin Hassett covered a lot of economic ground. For example, Erik asked him …

  • What is America’s REAL inflation rate?
  • How did inflation get back into our economy?
  • Will we have a ‘soft landing’ and how deep will the recession be?

We’ll coordinate with the Arizona Chamber to determine the exact date we will release this interview. One thing is for sure – if you are at all interested in or impacted by the economy, watching this interview is a must. 

We’ll be back in two weeks for the next issue of This Week

Stay well.

Steve Gordon

Total Spectrum Managing Director


Heard on the Hill

By Steve Gordon, Total Spectrum Managing Partner

Official Washington was flabbergasted to read Monday night that Politico had gotten their hands on an early draft of the Supreme Court’s majority opinion on the upcoming Roe v. Wade decision.

At one level, this story is about a leak at an institution where leaks are exceptionally unusual. I had dinner last evening with Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), who clerked for Justice Samuel Alito at the Supreme Court. Senator Lee said that the Supreme Court has about 260 employees, including four clerks and one executive secretary for each of the nine justices.

He told us that when he was a clerk, each draft decision went through a paper shredder horizontally before it went through the shredder vertically – and then the confetti went into a burn bag. Senator Lee was absolutely clear that a true investigation by the FBI would certainly find the culprit.

At another level, it’s a legal case around one of the most emotional issues of my life. I sat down this morning with one of the best lawyers within our firm. He has read the draft and said it was very well written. His thoughts on Justice Alito’s draft: “Roe disrupted state abortion legislation when it was decided in 1973, so it’s not at all surprising that almost half of the states are changing or will change their abortion legislation. There is general agreement among conservative lawyers that the 1973 decision was not legally sound. The question for the court is whether they should correct federal law and disrupt the status quo. It appears that the majority of the court says we should.”

There’s a third level – and that’s the political fallout. The view of most people that I have talked with – and a view that I wholeheartedly share – is that a wave is forming at the back of Republicans based on economic and educational issues, fueled by the President’s low polls. The Court’s decision in June will create intensity on both sides of the issue but that intensity is already baked in the base of both parties, and it’s a long time until November. The Court’s June decision will impact a few races in November, but only on the margins.

The First Significant Primary

Ohio’s Republican voters gave the nod to novelist J.D. Vance in his U.S. Senate primary race. Some will call it a win for former President Trump, because Vance was Trump’s choice. But I would argue that an equally big winner in Ohio was Peter Thiel.

Mr. Thiel, a founder of PayPal and a very early investor in Facebook, created and funded an Ohio super PAC in support of J.D. Vance. Most Arizonians know that Blake Masters, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Arizona, is a colleague of Peter Thiel. Mr. Thiel has started a super PAC supporting Blake Masters too.

The First Sighting of a Possible Lame Duck

Senator John Thune (R-SD), the Senate Republican Whip, was asked this week if there will be a lame duck session after the election. He said that Republicans would like a lame duck to deal with some tax issues that have implications for the economy. Senator Thune indicated that he expects Democrats will also have some key matters they would like to resolve in a lame duck, especially if the November elections turn out as expected.

A December lame duck session seems a long time away, but legislating will really stop around the end of July. Campaigning in earnest will start in early August and will run through the November elections. The year is going to fly by. 


Defense Update

By Al Jackson, Total Spectrum Strategic Consultant

The administration’s Fiscal Year 2023 funding request is $813 billion, of which $773 billion is for the Defense Department. Soon after the release of the budget, the Armed Services submitted a list of “unfunded” programs which did not make the President’s budget totaling $21.4 billion, or nearly 3% of the $773 billion Pentagon total.

The armed services’ FY 2023 unfunded lists were somewhat evenly divided: $5.1 billion for the Army, $4.6 billion for the Air Force, $639 million for the Space Force, $4 billion for the Navy, and $3.5 billion for the Marine Corps.

More money will likely be added on top of the unfunded billions so that the defense budget can account for expected inflation. The administration built the defense budget on an assumption of 4% inflation in defense, a measure that differs from the consumer price index. Defense inflation is predicted to be higher in FY2023. 

Spiking fuel prices will cost the Pentagon $3 billion more than expected in FY2022, and it will have to go to Congress for more money, a senior official said in congressional testimony on Wednesday. Comptroller Mike McCord indicated during a hearing on the Pentagon’s $773 billion FY23 defense budget request that fuel will cost $1.8 billion more than expected for the rest of the year ― after Congress added $1.5 billion for increased fuel costs in the budget signed into law last month. 

In related news, a plan to bring new missions to Arizona’s Davis-Monthan Air Force Base is canceled, as the Air Force struggles to get rid of old attack planes. Last year the Air Force announced it wanted to retire 42 A-10C Thunderbolt II planes, all but seven of which are housed at the Tucson base. Retiring those jets in 2022 would have made room to bring testing and training for the A-10 and the HH-60 combat search-and-rescue helicopter from Nevada’s Nellis AFB to Davis-Monthan. The Air Force wanted to move Nellis’ A-10 weapons instructor course and test and evaluation work to Arizona this year. The HH-60G’s advanced tactics course for instructors, test, and combat units would join them in 2024. 

Davis-Monthan is home to A-10Cs, HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, HC-130 Hercules transport jets, and the EC-130H Compass Call electronic warfare planes. This has been the plan for years, as Air Force officials have tried and failed multiple times to retire a portion of the Air Force’s 280 A-10s in favor of longer-range, stealthy platforms, and are replacing Pave Hawks and Compass Calls with newer models. 

In June 2021, acting Air Force Secretary John Roth said, “Davis-Monthan will play a critical role in reshaping U.S. airpower as home to the Air Force’s close air support and rescue Centers of Excellence. This realignment will consolidate all A-10 and HH-60 test, training and weapons school activity at one location, allowing airmen in these mission areas to train together for future threats.”

Now because those A-10 aircraft will not be retired, Nellis AFB will keep those units even as it ends other missions. Transferring them was supposed to pave the way for the Las Vegas installation to become the service’s “fifth-generation center of excellence” for jets like the F-35 and F-22 Raptor.


Hearing Report

By Ramona Leesen, Executive Direcotor, Total Spectrum

Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Cybersecurity hearing on Artificial Intelligence Applications to Cyberspace Operations

Tuesday, May 3, 2022; 2:30 p.m. 

To view a livestream of the hearing please click here.

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Subcommittee Chairman

Majority Statement

Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD), Subcommittee Ranking Member

Minority Statement

Witnesses:

Dr. Andrew Moore

Vice President and Director of Google Cloud Artificial Intelligence

Google Corporation

Testimony

Dr. Eric Horvitz

Technical Fellow and Chief Scientific Officer

Microsoft Corporation

Testimony

Dr. Andrew Lohn

Senior Fellow Center for Security and Emerging Technology

Georgetown University

Testimony


Congressional Calendar

All times ET

Tuesday, May 3

  • 9:30 a.m. Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the fiscal 2023 budget request for the Air Force.
  • 9:30 a.m. Senate HELP Employment and Workplace Safety Subcommittee hearing on supporting the broadband workforce.
  • 10 a.m. Senate Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science Subcommittee hearing on the fiscal 2023 budget request for NASA and the National Science Foundation.
  • 10 a.m. Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee hearing on the fiscal 2023 budget request for the Department of Defense.
  • 10 a.m. Senate Commerce-Science-Committee hearing on the fiscal 2023 budget request for the Transportation Department. Buttigieg testifies. 253 Russell.
  • 10 a.m. Senate Foreign Relations Committee hybrid hearing on State Department authorization. 
  • 10 a.m. Senate Judiciary Oversight Subcommittee hearing on transparency and accountability for 21st century courts.
  • 10 a.m. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee business meetingto consider Maria Robinson to be an assistant Secretary of Energy and 13 bills, including one that would standardize the designation of National Heritage Areas.
  • 10 a.m. Senate Rules Committee business meeting to consider Dara Lindenbaum to be a member of the Federal Election Commission.
  • 2:30 p.m. Senate Appropriations Financial Services Subcommittee hearing on the fiscal 2023 budget request for the IRS.
  • 2:30 p.m. Senate Armed Services Cybersecurity Subcommittee hearing on artificial intelligence applications to cyberspace operations.
  • 3:30 p.m. Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing on VA workforce recruitment and retention.

Wednesday, May 4

  • 9:30 a.m. Senate Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee hearing on the fiscal 2023 budget request for HHS.
  • 9:45 a.m. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee business meeting to consider the Water Resources Development Act of 2022, which would require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to address climate change and equity for disadvantaged, rural and tribal communities, among other things; six General Services Administration resolutions; and the nomination of Benny Wagner to be the Tennessee Valley Authority inspector general.
  • 10 a.m. Senate Foreign Relations Committee business meeting to consider five U.S. ambassador nominations and three treaties.
  • 10 a.m. Senate Appropriations Energy-Water Subcommittee hearing on the fiscal 2023 budget request for the DOE. 
  • 10 a.m. Senate Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee hearingon the fiscal 2023 budget request for DHS.
  • 10 a.m. Senate Appropriations Interior-Environment Subcommittee hearingon the fiscal 2023 budget request for the U.S. Forest Service.
  • 10 a.m. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on excessive credit and debit card swipe fees.
  • 2 p.m. Senate Finance Taxation Subcommittee hearing on enforcing tax-exempt entities’ political activities.
  • 2 p.m. Senate Judiciary Privacy and Technology Subcommittee hearing on social media platform transparency.
  • 2:15 p.m. Senate Foreign Relations Committee hybrid hearing on four U.S. ambassador nominations.
  • 2:30 p.m. Senate Banking Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection Subcommittee hearing on overdraft fees.
  • 2:30 p.m. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on necessary resources and authorities to protect the homeland.
  • 2:30 p.m. Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing on implementing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act for Native American communities.
  • 3:30 p.m. Senate Appropriations Military Construction-VA Subcommittee hearing on the fiscal 2023 budget request and 2024 advance appropriations request for the VA. 
  • 4:30 p.m. Senate Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee hearingon the Nuclear Weapons Council.
  • TBA Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee business meeting to consider Shereef Elnahal to be the VA undersecretary for health.

Thursday, May 5

  • 9 a.m. Senate Judiciary Committee business meeting to consider a bill that would make oil-producing and exporting cartels illegal and Lane Tucker’s nomination to be an attorney for the District of Alaska.
  • 9:30 a.m. Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the fiscal 2023 budget request for the Army and on the Future Years Defense Program.
  • 10 a.m. Senate Banking Committee hearing on student loan servicers and their impact on workers.
  • 10 a.m. Senate Commerce Trade and Consumer Protection Subcommittee hearing on prescription drug market transparency.
  • 10 a.m. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on the fiscal 2023 budget request for the DOE. Granholm testifies.
  • 10:15 a.m. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on securing the southwest border.
  • 11 a.m. Senate Budget Committee hearing on whether taxpayer dollars should go to companies that violate labor laws. 216 Hart.

Friday, May 6

  • 10 a.m. Senate Environment Clean Air Subcommittee field hearing on the decommissioning process for nuclear power plants. Plymouth, Mass.

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