Congressional backers of another big shot of funding for the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) are not ready to take no for an answer.

After a proposed $1 billion of additional funding for TMF was stripped late last month from House Democrats’ committee-level proposals for the Build Back Better Act, a new amendment to the legislation crafted by House Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and offered by Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., would add $250 million of TMF funding as part of a larger $500 million proposal to advance IT modernization programs.

In addition to the $250 million in additional funding for TMF, Rep. Yarmuth’s amendment also would give an additional $200 million to the General Services Administration’s (GSA) Federal Citizen Services Fund, and $50 million to the Office of Management and Budget’s Information Technology Oversight and Reform Fund (ITOR).

Those same three funding targets – TMF, Federal Citizen Services Fund, and ITOR – would have received $3.35 billion of new funding under the previous Build Back Better contribution from the House Oversight and Reform Committee and Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., who chairs the House Government Operations Subcommittee.

But that provision dropped out of the Build Back Better legislation when it encountered headwinds from Senate negotiators, and when the size of the proposed bill was cut from an original target of $3.5 trillion to its current target of somewhere close to $2 trillion.

After receiving an unprecedented $1 billion cash infusion through the American Rescue Plan Act earlier this year, the TMF remains flush with about $700 million of cash that it is aiming to spread among Federal agencies to fund proposals in high-impact areas, cybersecurity, citizen service improvements, and projects with enterprise-wide reach. That cash-pile, however, is not expected to stay in place for long, and additional high-dollar awards are likely to be announced soon.

Other tech provisions included in the earlier House version of the Build Back Better legislation largely survived the cutdown in the bill’s size, although at lower funding levels.

Legislation Status

After a flurry of activity late last week to consider the Build Back Better legislation along with the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill that did win House approval late Friday, further action on the legislation was delayed because some moderate House Democrats wanted a score from the Congressional Budget Office before voting on the measure.

In lieu of passing the bill, the House approved the rule to consider the bill, which outlines the rules governing debate on the package.

“Congress took a giant step toward enacting the most transformative, yes, transformative agenda in our country’s history, with the passing of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework,” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a Nov. 7 Dear Colleague letter. “But to Build Back Better, we must do more to address the climate crisis, promote equity and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to work.”

“Passing the rule on the Build Back Better Act gives us a running start on passing more of the President’s agenda,” she wrote.

The House is out of session this week for in-district work but is expected to take up the bill again, along with voting rights according to Pelosi’s letter, when the chamber returns to session Nov. 15.

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