Impeachment Trial Ends

The Senate impeachment trial came to an end this week with the Senate voting on Wednesday to acquit President Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The vote largely came down along party lines, with the exception of Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT), who joined Democrats in voting to convict for abuse of power.

Support for Puerto Rico

House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) introduced a bill last Tuesday that would provide support to Puerto Rico following a series of earthquakes that rocked the island. The bill would provide over $4.5 billion in aid to the US territory, with $3.26 billion going to a community development block grant for long term disaster relief. In addition, the bill would provide millions in aid for the infrastructure, education, and nutritional needs of the island’s residents.

Protecting the Right to Organize Act

The House voted on Thursday to pass major legislation that would significantly reform labor laws. The Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act), which was introduced by House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA), would strengthen unions, redefine the words “worker” and “supervisor”, and provide legal protections to undocumented workers in the workplace.

State of the Union

On Tuesday, President Trump delivered his third State of the Union Address during which he restated his commitment to close the digital divide between urban areas and rural and remote areas. In a White House fact sheet issued the same day, the President touted his commitment to workforce development, including pledging jobs and education in areas like artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, cybersecurity and 5G so “workers are able to thrive in the jobs of tomorrow.”

Request for Comment on AV 4.0

Today, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) jointly published a request for comment on Automated Vehicles (AV) 4.0, Ensuring American Leadership in Automated Vehicles Technology. The key difference from AV 3.0 is the expansion of scope from DOT modal administrations to 38 federal agencies that are involved in development and integration of AV technology. Comments are to be submitted to the docket by April 2.

President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology

The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAS), resurrected by executive order on October 22, 2019, held its first working meeting Monday and Tuesday, during which it discussed its near-term focus on quantum computing, AI, 5G telecommunications, advanced manufacturing, and synthetic biology as the prime industries of the future. The White House tasked the council with developing a five-year plan to accelerate the development of these industries. Kelvin Droegemeier, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), chairs the Council and there are currently ten other appointed members, a number which is expected to grow.

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