Continuing Resolution

With government spending authority set to expire on Thursday, the House unveiled a continuing resolution (CR) on Monday to extend funding through December 20. It went on to pass the chamber Tuesday, 231-192 and the Senate followed suit today, 74-20. The President is expected to sign it into law, averting a government shutdown.

Confirmation Hearing for FDA Commissioner

On Wednesday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee held a confirmation hearing for Dr. Stephen Hahn, the President’s nominee to serve as the next Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner. The Committee pressed Hahn on his opinions on issues related to vaping, opioids, and prescription drug pricing.

STELAR Reauthorization

House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders struck a deal on legislation to reauthorize an expiring satellite television law (STELAR) just hours before marking up the compromise on Wednesday. The Television Viewer Protection Act does not include a license renewal provision that falls under the jurisdiction of the House Judiciary Committee, which marks up the Satellite Television Community Protection and Promotion Act today. The Senate Commerce Committee has yet to consider a STELAR reauthorization ahead of its December 31 expiration.

Antitrust Forum Comments

On Monday, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen gave a speech at the American Bar Association Antitrust Forum during which he said: “we do not view antitrust law as a panacea for every problem in the digital world. Indeed, we will not ignore any harms caused by online platforms that partially or completely fall outside the antitrust laws.” This raises questions about whether the Department of Justice is willing to pursue tech companies for issues that do not implicate the Sherman Antitrust Act.

Autonomous Vehicles Oversight

During a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) meeting on Tuesday, federal accident investigators criticized the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for a lack of oversight over autonomous vehicles (AVs), including producing guidance that does not outline metrics by which developers can determine if they’ve met certain safety goals. The NTSB recommended that NHTSA require developers seeking to test on public roads to provide safety self-assessment plans before testing begins. During the hearing, the NTSB noted that there are 62 developers undergoing testing in California, but only 16 have submitted safety self-assessments to NHTSA.  (Current NHTSA policy recommends but does not require companies to provide self-assessments.) The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee also held a hearing yesterday on AVs; see below for more details.

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems

NHTSA announced today in a Federal Register notice that it is requesting public comment on nine draft research test procedures to assess the performance of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) available to consumers. Comments are due by January 21, 2020.

FCC’s Precision Agriculture Task Force

On Tuesday, the FCC announced the members of its Precision Agriculture Task Force and the first meeting of the group. The Task Force will be chaired by Teddy Bekele, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Land O’Lakes, and Catherine Moyer, Chief Executive Officer and General Manager, Pioneer Communications. Members of the Task Force include John Deere, SpaceX, and a host of other entities that represent a range of stakeholders in the agriculture sector. The Task Force’s first meeting it set for December 9 at 9:30 am.

Read more in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Emerging Technologies Washington Update.