Procedural challenges in the Senate give way to final votes on both "must-pass" pieces of legislation.
The Senate, working through the weekend, managed to pass both the annual defense authorization bill and a spending bill that funds most of the government through the end of the fiscal year 2015. President Barack Obama is expected to sign both measures.
The $1.1 trillion bill -- a hybrid omnibus appropriations bill and continuing resolution -- passed the Senate on Dec. 13 by a vote of 56-40. The vote came after a procedural challenge led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), in protest against Obama's recent executive order on immigration, was blocked by a vote of 74-22. The Senate had earlier voted to back a House joint resolution extending government funding through Dec. 17 in case procedural moves slowed Senate progress on the spending bill.
The Senate voted Dec. 12 to pass the defense authorization bill by a vote of 89-11. That bill includes the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), which gives new budget and hiring authorities to civilian agency CIOs, and bakes into law several administration initiatives including data center consolidation, portfolio review led by the Office of Management and Budget, strategic sourcing, and new training for the acquisitions workforce.
"Effective federal IT procurement reform must start with leadership and accountability," FITARA co-sponsor Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said in a statement. "There are more than 250 identified CIOs in the federal government, yet none possess the necessary authority to effectively manage IT investments. This has resulted in duplicative and wasteful IT spending and, in many cases, astonishingly poor performance."
The appropriations bill also contains significant IT measures, including funding for the new U.S. Digital Service to be run out of OMB, a continuation of restrictions on China-made IT by agencies funded under the Commerce, Justice and Science section of the bill, and reporting requirements for Department of Defense spending on its planned acquisition of a commercial electronic health record system.
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