As has become customary, FY 2023 appropriations were enacted one quarter of the way into the fiscal year, and like almost every year, the omnibus contains significant tech funding and programmatic adjustments along with tech legislation.
Congress agreed finally on the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023” (H.R.2617), a $1.7 trillion package that will fund the United States (U.S.) government until the end of September. Some technology regulating agencies saw remarkable funding increases like the Federal Trade Commission and National Institute of Standards and Technology that may allow them to better execute and perhaps even expand their current missions. The package includes legislative provisions that dramatically increase the fees companies must pay for review of mergers and acquisitions, thus expanding the pool of funds that could fund antitrust and competition enforcement. Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) request was granted for explicit authority to regulate the cybersecurity of medical devices before and after they hit the market. Moreover, Amazon and competitors will now need to collect and make available the contact information for high-volume sellers as a means of providing consumers greater redress and to address the problem of counterfeit, fake, and unsafe goods being sold online.
However, despite the wishes of some, the final major bill of 2022 did not include data protection and privacy legislation or antitrust and competition legislation prompted by some of “Big Tech’s” practices. Additionally, with Republicans in control of the House and making noise about trying to use the pending debt limit increase to force caps and reductions on U.S. government spending as happened in 2011 with the “Budge Control Act,” the FY 2023 may be the highwater mark for some agencies for years to come or funding increases could be below the rate of inflation.
The Biden Administration submitted its FY 2023 budget request in late March (see here for more detail and analysis) a few weeks after Congress and the White House agreed on FY 2022 funding (see here for more detail and analysis.)
The House Appropriations Committee published the following materials to accompany the FY 2023 omnibus:
Turning to the agencies, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received another historic bump in funding that was short of the very ambitious request the administration made in March 2022. The agency would get $430 million, an increase from the FY 2022 enacted level of $376.53 million, which was $25 million more than FY 2021. The White House had asked for $490 million, but the significant funding increase likely pleases the FTC and its leadership that has consistently said the agency lacks the resources to execute all its missions.