IP and Innovation on Capitol Hill: Week of March 11

This week on Capitol Hill, both houses of Congress are abuzz with a full schedule of hearings related to science, technology and innovation topics. In the House of Representatives, various committees explore a proposed net neutrality bill, innovation in the aviation industry, and ways to improve competition in the pharmaceutical industry—a hot topic of debate in recent weeks. Both the House and the Senate will hold hearings on the future of America’s space program. The Senate will also consider consumer data privacy regulations, rural broadband investments, and military applications of artificial intelligence. On Tuesday, a pair of events at the Brookings Institution will look at the impact of technological advances on public policy, as well as the artificial intelligence race between the U.S. and China.

Tuesday, March 12

The Brookings Institution 

How Can Public Policy Keep Up With Technological Change?

At 9:00 AM on Tuesday at the Falk Auditorium, Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036.

Since the introduction of the printing press in the 15th Century through recent innovations in artificial intelligence and virtual reality, technological advances have caused major disruptions to society. This event marks the debut of Brookings Visiting Fellow and former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler’s book From Gutenberg to Google: The History of Our Future. Joining Wheeler in a panel discussion of the book’s themes will be Cecilia Kang, Technology Reporter, The New York Times, and Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA), House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Chairman. The discussion will be moderated by E.J. Dionne, W. Averell Harriman Chair and Senior Fellow, Governance Studies, Brookings.

House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology

Legislating to Safeguard the Free and Open Internet

At 10:00 AM on Tuesday in 2322 Rayburn House Office Building.

On Wednesday, March 6, Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) introduced H.R. 1644, the Save the Internet Act, into the House of Representatives. The bill intends to restore the Open Internet Order, including Title II common carrier classification for Internet service providers (ISPs), which was rescinded by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in December 2017. There is no witness panel scheduled for this hearing.

House Subcommittee on Research and Technology 

Engineering Our Way to a Sustainable Bioeconomy

At 10:00 AM on Tuesday in 2318 Rayburn.

The word “bioeconomy” refers to all economic activity which has a focus on sustainability and includes those activities related to food, agriculture and biotechnology. The focus on bioeconomic activities has grown in recent years along with concerns over climate change and pollution. The witness panel for this hearing includes Dr. Rob Carlson, Managing Director of Bioeconomy Capital; Dr. Kevin Solomon, Assistant Professor of Agricultural & Biological Engineering, Purdue University; Dr. Eric Hegg, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Michigan State University, and Michigan State University Subcontract Lead, Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center; Dr. Sean Simpson, Chief Scientific Officer and Co-Founder, LanzaTech; and Dr. Laurie Zoloth, Margaret E. Burton Professor of Religion and Ethics, and Senior Advisor to the Provost for Programs in Social Ethics at the University of Chicago.

House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

Looking Forward: Aviation 2050

At 10:00 AM on Tuesday in HVC-210 Capitol Visitor Center.

The aviation industry is expected to see a dramatic rise in the number of passengers served over the coming decades and innovations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve propulsion systems and even provide urban air taxi systems. The witness panel for this hearing includes Eric Allison, Head of Elevate, Uber Technologies, Inc.; Diana Cooper, Senior Vice President, Policy & Strategy, PrecisionHawk, Inc.; Captain Joe DePete, President, Air Line Pilots Association, International; Dr. Eli Dourado, Head of Global Policy and Communications, Boom; David McBride, Director, Armstrong Flight Research Center, National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Senate Committee on the Judiciary

GDPR & CCPA: Opt-ins, Consumer Control, and the Impact on Competition and Innovation

At 10:00 AM on Tuesday in 226 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

The European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are two recently passed laws in different jurisdictions which include the strongest consumer data privacy regulations currently in force. The witness panel for this hearing hasn’t been announced.

House Subcommittee on Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies 

Stakeholder Perspectives: Passenger Rail Development

At 11:00 AM on Tuesday in 2358-A Rayburn.

Passenger rail is often associated with a bygone era of transportation but regional projects to look at expanding rail lines and improve railcar safety while increasing car speed have been pursued across the U.S. in recent years. The witness panel for this hearing includes Stephen Gardner, Senior Executive Vice President, Commercial, Marketing and Strategy, Amtrak; DJ Mitchell, Assistant Vice President, Passenger Operations, BNSF Railway; and Jason Orthner, Rail Division Director, North Carolina Department of Transportation.

House Committee on the Judiciary

The State of Competition in the Wireless Market: Examining the Impact of the Proposed Merger of T-Mobile and Sprint on Consumers, Workers, and the Internet 

At 2:00 PM on Tuesday in 2141 Rayburn.

Originally scheduled for mid-February, this House Judiciary Committee hearing on the proposed merger between T-Mobile and Sprint is the latest hearing on this topic since a hearing by the House Energy and Commerce Committee last month. There is no witness panel announced for this hearing yet.

The Brookings Institution

How China and the U.S. Are Advancing Artificial Intelligence

At 2:00 PM on Tuesday at the Falk Auditorium, Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036.

By 2030, most of the $15.7 trillion economic impact that will be coming from AI technologies are expected to be captured by China and the U.S. This hearing will explore coming advances in artificial intelligence as well as areas where the U.S. and China are either cooperating or competing. The discussion panel for this event includes Ryan Hass, David M. Rubenstein Fellow, Foreign Policy, Center for East Asia Policy Studies, John L. Thornton China Center; Nicol Turner Lee, Fellow, Governance Studies, Center for Technology Innovation; and Robb Gordon, Group Counsel and Director, China Legal Team, Intel. The event will be moderated by Darrell West, Vice President and Director, Governance Studies, Brookings, and Founding Director, Center for Technology Innovation.

Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet 

The Impact of Broadband Investments in Rural America

At 2:30 PM on Tuesday in 216 Hart Senate Office Building.

This hearing will examine the FCC’s order to expand rural broadband availability, ways to support investments in rural broadband and efforts meant to prevent overbuilding among federal broadband programs. The witness panel for this hearing will include Justin Fourde, Senior Director of Government Relations, Midcontinent Communications; Dr. Mark Jamison, Visiting Scholar, American Enterprise Institute; Denny Law, General Manager and CEO, Golden West Telecommunications; and Carol Mattey, Principal, Mattey Consulting, LLC.

Senate Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities

Artificial Intelligence Initiatives within the Department of Defense

At 2:30 PM on Tuesday in SR-232A Russell Senate Office Building.

This February, the Department of Defense (DoD) officially launched its artificial intelligence strategy which involves the adoption of AI technologies across the military operations of both the U.S. and its allies. The witness panel for this hearing includes Dr. Peter Highnam, Deputy Director, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; Michael Brown, Director, Defense Innovation Unit; and Lieutenant General John Shanahan, Director, Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, Office of the Department of Defense Chief Information Officer.

Wednesday, March 13 

House Subcommittee on Health 

Lowering the Cost of Prescription Drugs: Reducing Barriers to Market Competition

At 10:00 AM on Wednesday in 2123 Rayburn.

The rising price of prescription drugs has drawn a great deal of political ire in recent months. This hearing comes less than one week after the House Health Subcommittee within the House Ways & Means Committee held a contentious hearing on reducing the price of drugs covered by Medicare, during which pharmaceutical patents were oft-criticized. Drug patents are sure to be discussed during this hearing as well, according to the hearing’s briefing memo. The witness panel for this hearing includes Lou Kennedy, CEO and Owner, Nephron Pharmaceuticals; Anthony Barrueta, Senior Vice President, Government Relations, Kaiser Permanente; Michael Carrier, Distinguished Professor, Rutgers Law School; Kurt Karst, Director, Hyman, Phelps & McNamara, P.C.; Jeff Kushan, Partner, Sidley Austin LLP; and Marc Boutin, CEO, National Health Council.

House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology 

America in Space: Future Visions, Current Issues

At 10:00 AM on Wednesday in 2318 Rayburn.

The space program of the United States has set a goal of sending a manned mission to Mars during the 2030s but the country hasn’t sent its own ships into space since NASA’s Space Shuttle program was ended during the Obama Administration. The witness panel for this hearing includes Dr. Ellen Stofan, John and Adrienne Mars Director, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Former NASA Chief Scientist; and Frank Rose, Senior Fellow, Security and Strategy, The Brookings Institution, Former Assistant Secretary of State.

Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation 

The New Space Race: Ensuring U.S. Global Leadership on the Final Frontier

At 10:00 AM on Wednesday in G50 Dirksen.

This hearing, which runs concurrent with the House Science Committee’s hearing on the future of America’s space program, will examine the federal government’s strategy for maintaining international supremacy in space, look at ways to ensure competitiveness in the space industry and address challenges facing the United States’ preeminence in space travel. The witness panel for this hearing includes the Honorable Jim Bridenstine, Administrative, NASA; and Kevin O’Connell, Director, Office of Space Commerce, Department of Commerce.

Senate Committee on Foreign Relations 

A New Approach for an Era of U.S.-China Competition 

At 10:15 AM on Wednesday in 419 Dirksen.

Trade deficits and intellectual property practices, and their various impacts on competition, have been at the forefront of the recent actions of the United States government taken against the People’s Republic of China. The witness panel for this hearing includes the Honorable James Talent, Commissioner, U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission; and Dr. Oriana Mastro, Assistant Professor of Security Studies, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University.

House Committee on Small Business 

Flipping the Switch on Rural Digital Entrepreneurship

At 11:30 AM on Wednesday in 2360 Rayburn.

Although 97 percent of the U.S. is classified as rural, only 17 percent of the nation’s businesses are located at rural areas. Improving access to digital technologies could be a major boon to entrepreneurs trying to start businesses in rural America. The witness panel for this hearing includes Dana Connors, President and CEO, Maine State Chamber of Commerce; Bill Ingersoll, Owner, Bikes, Trikes, and Quads; Afton Stout, Owner, My Dinosaur Dreams; and Jake Ward, President, Connected Commerce Council.

House Subcommittee on Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities 

Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Request for U.S. Cyber Command and Operations in Cyberspace

At 2:00 PM on Wednesday in 2118 Rayburn.

U.S. Cyber Command is the agency within the DoD which is tasked with defending the military’s information networks and centralizing command of military cyberspace operations. A report published March 6 by the Government Accountability Office found gaps in the training plan of U.S. Cyber Command personnel as the agency undergoes a four-phase transitional plan. The witness panel for this hearing includes Kenneth Rapuano, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security, Principal Cyber Advisor, DoD; and General Paul Nakasone, Commander, U.S. Cyber Command, and Director, National Security Agency.

Senate Subcommittee on Intellectual Property 

Oversight of the United States Patent and Trademark Office

At 2:30 PM on Wednesday in 226 Dirksen.

Along with revisions to subject matter eligibility guidelines used by office examiners, recent activities of the USPTO have included a report on women inventors listed on U.S. patents as well as the appointment of a new Chief Information Officer at the office. The sole witness for this hearing is the Honorable Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO.

Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

Cyber Crime: An Existential Threat to Small Business

At 2:30 PM on Wednesday in 428A Russell.

In 2018, nearly half of all small businesses in the U.S. suffered a cyber attack due in large part to the relatively lax cybersecurity systems employed by small businesses in comparison to larger firms with greater financial resources. This hearing has two witness panels. The first panel includes Dr. Charles Romine, Director, Information Technology Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology; and Maria Roat, Chief Information Officer, U.S. Small Business Administration. The second panel includes Karen Harper, President, Charles River Analytics, Inc.; Elizabeth Hyman, Executive Vice President, CompTIA; and Stacey Smith, President and CEO, Cyber Association of Maryland, Inc.

Thursday, March 14

House Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce

Enhancing Vehicle Technology to Prevent Drunk Driving

At 10:00 AM on Thursday in 2123 Rayburn.

While rates of fatalities caused by drunk driving have decreased by 68 percent since record-keeping began in 1982, there were more than 10,000 automotive accident fatalities in 2017 in which the driver causing the accident had a blood alcohol content over the legal limit. Technologies that could prevent drunk driving include hi-sensitivity alcohol sensors, alcohol odor sensors and ignition interlocks. The witness panel for this hearing hasn’t been announced yet.


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