Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in Washington today for separate meetings with the President, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that will primarily focus on the proposed US-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement.
With just a handful of legislative days remaining before the July 4 recess, the Senate continued to process pending judicial and executive branch nominations this week, including Sean Cairncross’ nomination to be CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation. In the meantime, the President announced on Tuesday that Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan would withdraw his nomination to serve in that role in a permanent capacity and that Army Secretary Mark Esper would replace him as Acting Secretary.
House Passes First FY20 Minibus
On the other side of Capitol Hill, the House voted 226-203 on Wednesday to pass its first FY20 minibus, a package of appropriations bills. It then turned to a second minibus comprised of the Commerce-Justice-Science, Agriculture-Rural Development-FDA, Interior-Environment, Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development bills, as well as nearly 300 amendments. Lawmakers will vote later today on amendments to the Commerce-Justice-Science division.
Do Not Track Act
Before leaving Washington last week, Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) cosponsored Senator Josh Hawley’s (R-MO) Do Not Track Act, which previously drew support from Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). Nearly two dozen Senate Democrats also introduced a bill led by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) to prohibit the distribution of 3D printer plans for printing firearms.
Facial Recognition Technology
23 House Democrats also wrote to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan this week to express concerns about Customs and Border Protection using facial recognition technology. The lawmakers specifically cited reports of false matches and algorithmic bias, as recently discussed during a pair of House Oversight Committee hearings on ensuring transparency in government use of the technology.
Legislation Introduced on Ride-Hailing Platforms
This week, Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Thomas Suozzi (D-NY) and Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced companion bills to compel states to require vehicles operating through a ride-hailing platform to display an illuminated sign displaying the company’s logo, as well as to adhere to specific vehicle inspection requirements. H.R. 3262 also requires ride-hailing platforms to implement a system by which riders can electronically verify a driver’s identity, including placing a machine-readable code or label in the vehicle’s window that a rider can scan using her or her mobile phone or other device.
This morning, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR) announced a bipartisan deal on legislation to combat illegal robocalls. The Communications and Technology Subcommittee will markup the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act next week.
TOWER Infrastructure Deployment Act
Reps. Tim Walberg (R-MI) and Yvette Clarke (D-NY) introduced the TOWER Infrastructure Deployment Act this week, a bill aimed at building a workforce equipped to support deployment of new communications technologies. At the outset, the legislation establishes a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) advisory council to examine industry needs as it transitions to technologies including 5G, next-generation broadband, and next-generation television.
Precision Ag Connectivity Task Force
The FCC also announced this week that it is seeking nominations for a new Precision Ag Connectivity Task Force in accordance with the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. The Task Force will advise the FCC and Department of Agriculture on steps that should be taken to expand access to broadband for agricultural purposes. Nominations are due by July 17.
Read more in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Emerging Technologies Washington Update.