On Monday evening, the White House and congressional leaders announced a two-year budget deal that also suspends the debt limit until July 31, 2021. The Bipartisan Budget Agreement Act increases FY20 non-defense spending by $24.5 billion to $621.5 billion with an extra $2.5 billion adjustment for the census. It also increases FY20 defense spending by $19.5 billion to $666.5 billion with $8 billion in non-defense spending and $71.5 billion in defense spending set aside in the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account. For FY21, non-defense spending would increase to $626.5 billion and defense spending to $671.5 billion. The House is scheduled to pass the bill later today, with the Senate to follow suit next week.
The Senate continued to process nominations this week, including voting 90-8 on Tuesday to confirm Mark Esper as Secretary of Defense and 52-40 on Wednesday to confirm Steve Dickson as Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The Senate also voted 97-2 on Tuesday to reauthorize the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund, sending it to the President for his signature.
5G Bills, DATA Act, BROWSER Act
The Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee cancelled a Tuesday oversight hearing during which the panel was scheduled to hear from Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Joe Simons and Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim. It has been rescheduled for September 17. On Wednesday, the Senate Commerce Committee advanced a slew of bills, including S. 893, the Secure 5G and Beyond Act, S. 1625, the United States 5G Leadership Act, and S. 1822, the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act. The panel also heard from several executive branch nominees, including Michael Kratsios, the President’s nominee for US Chief Technology Officer and Associate Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Last Thursday night, Senator Duckworth (D-IL) signed on as the first Democrat to cosponsor S. 1116, Senator Blackburn’s (R-TN) Balancing the Rights of Web Surfers Equally and Responsibly (BROWSER) Act. At the same time, Ranking Member Feinstein (D-CA) confirmed that she will co-chair the new Senate Judiciary tech task force with Blackburn.
Robocalls Legislation and Other Bills
While much of the focus in the House this week was on Robert Mueller’s testimony before the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, the House also passed H.R. 397, the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act, and H.R. 3239, the Humanitarian Standards for Individuals in Customs and Border Protection Custody Act. Lawmakers also passed a number of bills under suspension of the rules, including H.R. 3409, a two-year Coast Guard reauthorization and H.R. 3375, the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act. The Senate recently passed its own legislation aimed at curbing abusive robocalls, the TRACED Act, and lawmakers will now look to reconcile the differences between the two bills.
Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act
On Wednesday, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) introduced H.R. 3900, the House companion to a bill Senators Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced earlier this year to update the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The FTC also recently announced that it will hold a workshop in October to discuss whether or not technological advances and new business practices warrant updates to its COPPA Rule.
Communications Decency Act
Today, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a members’ day hearing during which lawmakers testified on issues of particular importance to them and their districts. Rep. Ed Case (D-HI) requested that the Committee formally review Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, specifically as it pertains to short-term rental marketplaces.
Updates from the Administration
Last Thursday evening, President Trump announced his intention to nominate Eugene Scalia to be next the Secretary of Labor. Secretary Alex Acosta resigned effective last Friday. On Monday, Trump hosted Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House and announced that he will host Australian Prime Minister Morrison for a state visit on September 20. He also hosted CEOs from a number of technology companies to discuss trade negotiations with China.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) formally announced this week that it is extending to August 19 the deadline for comments on its notice of proposed rulemaking to update the commercial space launch licensing process. The deadline had previously been extended from April 15 to June 14.
Read more in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Emerging Technologies Washington Update.