Capitol Hill

A Macroeconomic Analysis of the President’s 2016 Budget

The President’s policies would make U.S. output larger over the next decade than it would be under current law—mostly by changing immigration laws. Such economic effects would feed back into the budget in ways that would reduce deficits. Each year, after the President releases his budget request, CBO analyzes the proposals in that request. Using its own economic projections and estimating procedures, CBO projects what the federal budget would look like over the next 10 years if the President’s proposals were adopted.

The U.S. Must Lead on Technology Privacy Issues

Congress and our next president face an increasingly complex and fast-paced security environment. The heightened public debate on these issues underscores the need to update our laws, through measures such as the LEADS Act, and ensure we take advantage of modern ways of exchanging information while respecting longstanding privacy agreements. These issues will have a lasting effect not only in terms of how we treat our citizens’ data, but also in terms of our ability to partner with the rest of the world.

Don't let FCC stifle Internet innovation

Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission announced plans to regulate the Internet under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. Yes, an 80-year-old statute enacted in an age when the closest thing to a mobile app was a pen has given the FCC virtually unrestrained power to impose enormous burdens on the Internet. At a time when small businesses should be taking advantage of technology, the FCC's decision will instead lead to higher Internet access fees, less investment, and, worst of all, less innovation.

Keystone XL: US review taking 5 times longer than average

The federal review of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to Texas has dragged on for nearly seven years, more than five times the average for such applications. The White House insists it's simply following a standard and well-established process. In the 6 1/2 years since TransCanada Corp. first applied for a permit, the $8 billion project has become a flashpoint in the debate over climate change.

The Innovation Act: Debating How to Protect US Innovation

If passed, The Innovation Act would change regulations concerning patent infringement lawsuits. Currently, patent owners can allege patent infringement and file lawsuits without specifically identifying how the defendant has infringed upon the patent upfront. It’s not until the discovery phase when these details are ultimately revealed. By that time, a great deal of time and expense will have been invested on a case that may not have merit. According to EFF.org, many defendants settle rather than paying a fortune in legal fees to reach the discovery phase.

How Congress Can Promote Innovation, Productivity, and Competitiveness

U.S. workers and enterprises are falling behind in the global innovation, productivity, and competitiveness race, and Congress should enact a series of policies to reverse the trends, Stephen Ezell argued last week in remarks to the House Democratic Caucus. On an expert panel convened by Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Ezell's specific recommendations included reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank, investing in manufacturing innovation and education, spurring technology transfer and commercialization, and unlocking the economic potential of the Internet of Things.

FY 2016 Senate Appropriations Bill: Department of Education STEM Programs

House and Senate appropriators took different approaches in their versions of the FY 2016 Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill regarding the Mathematics and Science Partnership Programs.   House appropriators provided no funding for this program, in contrast to the Senate bill.  This and other differences will be resolved when Congress returns from its summer recess.

NASA: Seats on Russian rockets will cost us $490 million

NASA told Congress on Wednesday that it will have to spend half a billion dollars to pay Russia to fly astronauts to the International Space Station. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden sent a letter to Congress saying the agency would need to pay $490 million to Russia for six seats on Soyuz rockets for U.S. astronauts to fly through 2017. That comes to nearly $82 million a seat, up from $71 million a seat.

Facial Recognition Technology - Commercial Uses, Privacy Issues, and Applicable Federal Law

Google and Facebook are the only two major social media, retail or casino companies that the Government Accountability Office could identify as using facial recognition technology in a new report. The GAO report into the use of facial recognition comes amid rapid advances in the technology which have sparked privacy concerns. Both companies, which were not explicitly named in the report released July 29th, told GAO investigators that neither had any plans to share their facial recognition data with a third-party without user consent.

Senate Approves U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act

The U.S. Senate, today, unanimously approved S. 1297, the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, introduced by Commerce Committee Space, Science, and Competitiveness Subcommittee. The legislation, which the full Commerce Committee approved by voice vote with an amendment on May 20, 2015, extends the operational use of the International Space Station (ISS) until 2024, a regulatory moratorium on commercial space activity through FY 2020, and ensures stability for the continued development and growth of the U.S. commercial space sector and other space initiatives.

Will the Obama Administration continue to seek amendments to the Innovation Act?

One thing which will be interesting to follow in the days following Lee’s briefing with the House Judiciary Committee will be to see if she holds firm to her stance in a few key areas. In written statements and spoken testimony previously offered to the House Judiciary Committee, Lee has said that the PTO generally supports the Innovation Act but that certain provisions, such as the customer stay and fee-shifting rules, needed some more fine-tuning. Will the Obama Administration continue to push for fine-tuning or will the White House get behind the bill regardless?

Senate panel passes bill to give public access to more research

A Senate panel on Wednesday passed legislation to require certain federally funded research to be open to the public. The bill would require every agency with an outside research budget of $100 million or more to make sure any research paper produced is publicly posted for free within a year of publication in a journal.

Speaker calls for end to oil export ban

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called Wednesday for Congress to lift the 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports. Boehner hadn't taken sides in the debate until Wednesday, and his endorsement likely sets the stage for a major policy battle this fall on Capitol Hill. “Lifting the ban would create an estimated 1 million jobs here at home, jobs that would frankly get created in every state. It would help bring down prices at the pump for consumers, and it will be good for our allies,” Boehner said at a press conference.

Success of NASA missions revives funding debate

The recent success of NASA missions prompted a new debate Tuesday on budget cuts to the U.S. space program. Members of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology called upon some of the country’s top planetary scientists to describe the latest NASA missions and the future of space exploration. Members of Congress lauded NASA for its recent historic achievements, namely the New Horizons' flyby of Pluto, as they advocated for restoring funding that is set to be eliminated.

Senate panel to vote on lifting oil export ban

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said her panel will vote before the August recess, scheduled to start Aug. 7, on a bill that includes oil exports and state revenue sharing for offshore oil and natural gas drilling. “[Offshore] revenue sharing and oil exports are very keen priorities of mine,” Murkowski told reporters Thursday.

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