Emerging Technologies Washington Update

September 27, 2018

Pardon Our Dust

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Week in Review

With both the House and Senate in session this week, lawmakers were focused on two major issues that impact the congressional agenda – the pending nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and sending the President another package of appropriations bills to avert a government shutdown on September 30. This morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee convened another hearing to hear from Kavanaugh and a woman who has accused him of sexual assault. The Committee is tentatively scheduled to vote on the nomination tomorrow morning. Yesterday, the House passed 361-61 a minibus that includes the FY19 Defense and Labor-HHS bills, as well as a continuing resolution (CR) to extend funding for the four remaining areas of government programs through December 7. The package also extends through December 7 the Violence Against Women Act. With the Senate having passed the measure last week, it now goes to the President for his signature.

Elsewhere, the House passed a five-year reauthorization of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorities alongside a short-term extension of current authorities through October 7 in case the Senate isn’t able to follow suit before the September 30 deadline. The legislation addresses emerging technologies across transportation (see below for more) and carries with it funding to assist Hurricane Florence recovery efforts. Today, the House takes up its tax reform 2.0 legislation, which is not expected to clear the Senate.

Meanwhile, the Senate confirmed Senate Commerce Committee staffer Peter Feldman to serve on the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Jackie Wolcott to represent the United States at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Vienna Office of the United Nations.

With the President in New York for the UN General Assembly, the White House hosted a summit on Monday focused on how the government can partner with the private sector to advance quantum computing. During the session, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy released a National Strategic Overview outlining the federal government’s quantum science policy priorities, including research and education. Federal agencies are to follow with reports on how to use quantum science to address pressing national problems. The summit also coincided with a Senate Energy and Natural Resources hearing on Department of Energy efforts in field of quantum information science.

On Wednesday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) swore in its newest commissioner, Christine Wilson. Former Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen’s term expired on Tuesday. Wilson joins the FTC amid its series of hearings on consumer protection and competition in the 21st century and as both the Senate and House Judiciary Committees prepare for antitrust oversight hearings this fall.

The Week Ahead

The House is expected to wrap its work before the end of the week and then recess until after the November 6 midterm elections. Next week, the Senate is likely to pass the five-year FAA reauthorization bill and the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).