The House and Senate were both in session this week and on Tuesday, a group of Senate Republicans, including Judiciary Committee Chairman Graham (R-SC) and Senators Blackburn (R-TN), Cotton (R-AR), Cramer (R-ND), Crapo (R-ID), Grassley (R-IA), Lee (R-UT), McSally (R-AZ), and Perdue (R-GA), attended a White House briefing to hear about the President’s forthcoming immigration plan spearheaded by senior adviser Jared Kushner. On Wednesday, the President hosted a Cabinet meeting before flying to Florida to tour hurricane damage at Tyndall Air Force Base and then hold a rally. Today, he attends a second White House event on surprise medical billing.
Earlier today, National Telecommunications and Information and Administration (NTIA) Administrator David Redl resigned. The Senate confirmed Redl, a former Energy and Commerce Committee aide, by voice vote in November 2017. Consistent with Majority Leader McConnell’s plan to move as many nominations as possible in the coming months, the Senate on Wednesday confirmed Kimberly Reed (President), former Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), and Judith Pryor to serve on the Board of the Export-Import Bank, restoring a quorum and enabling the Bank to consider and process larger transactions. The Senate also voted to confirm Joseph Bianco to be US Circuit Judge for the 2nd Circuit and to move ahead with Janet Dhillon’s nomination to sit on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Today, the Senate votes on Michael Park’s nomination to also sit on the 2nd Circuit Court.
House and Senate committees are both moving ahead with the FY20 appropriations process this week with the House Appropriations Committee processing several bills: Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education; Legislative Branch; Military Construction and Veterans Affairs; and State and Foreign Operations. On the Senate side, appropriators continue to hear from department heads on the Administration’s FY20 budget request with an eye to beginning markups later this month once they receive top-line funding levels.
Access Broadband Act
On Wednesday, the House voted unanimously to adopt the ACCESS BROADBAND Act, which would create a new Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) aimed at connecting more communities to high-speed internet. Reps. Brooks (R-IN) and Tonko (D-NY) championed the measure. The Senate Commerce Committee will consider a number of bills related to broadband deployment, including one sponsored by Chairman Wicker (R-MS) and Senator Klobuchar (D-MN) that aims to improve coordination between the FCC, NTIA, and USDA to better distribute federal funds for broadband deployment.
Preparing Localities for an Autonomous and Connected Environment Act
Meanwhile, Reps. Blumenauer (D-OR), Doyle (D-PA), and Bonamici (D-OR) introduced the Preparing Localities for an Autonomous and Connected Environment (PLACE) Act, which would create a federally-funded clearinghouse within an institution of higher education to examine the secondary influences of autonomous vehicles (AVs). The bill authorizes $2 million annually for coordinated research to help understand how AVs can impact things like land use, transportation, real estate, and social equity.
Read more in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Emerging Technologies Washington Update.