With help from John Hendel
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— Pass the chips: House lawmakers will discuss ways to increase U.S. dominance in microelectronics, as China ramps up its own investment in the field.
— Speed bumps: Progressives have been waiting impatiently for Democratic majorities at the FCC and the FTC. They’re likely going to have to wait a little longer.
— Broadband focus: If confirmed, telecom nominee Alan Davidson will oversee tens of billions in broadband funding. But ongoing concerns surrounding mapping will complicate that process, lawmakers say.
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HOUSE SCIENCE TAKES A CLOSER LOOK AT CHIPS — Amid the global semiconductor shortage, House Science lawmakers are turning their attention today to boosting American leadership in microelectronics.
“Advancing U.S. leadership in microelectronics will require a long-term, whole of government strategy,” Chair Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) will say, per her prepared remarks. “While incentives to re-shore capacity now are important, the future will be shaped by how we invest in innovation and the technical workforce.”
— On lawmakers’ minds: Rather than look at the causes of the chips shortage, the committee’s focus will be “forward looking,” ranking member Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) will say, adding that future developments in microelectronics will have important consequences for how technologies of the future, such as AI, 5G and quantum sciences, are used.
Committee members plan to explore questions ranging from where U.S. leadership in microelectronics R&D and manufacturing currently stands to the consequences of a loss of leadership in those areas, and whether legislation could help.
— Looking at China: Beijing has invested heavily in its own domestic semiconductor capacity — something that Lucas will note in his remarks. Congress is seeking to do the same by passing funding for the CHIPS Act.
Expect that legislation to be a key feature of the hearing, especially as it relates to questions about how Congress and the White House should implement and fund it. “I have no doubt this will be a major legislative and oversight priority for our committee for years to come,” Lucas will say about the bill.
Today’s hearing comes as Senate Democrats have conceded that passage of a legislative package aimed at boosting U.S. competitiveness against China, which includes $52 billion in funding for the chips legislation, will likely slip into next year. Johnson will say that she supports the funding, but “a one-time infusion” will not be enough for the U.S. to maintain its leadership in microelectronics innovation.
House and Senate leaders have agreed to a conference committee to hash out the differences between the two chambers’ approaches to the China competitiveness package. “Unfortunately, we are still waiting on the details of that conference,” Lucas will say, adding that there are still details related to funding that need to be worked out. “Chairwoman Johnson and I are ready to go, we’ve been ready to go for months.”
LONG ROAD AHEAD — Senate Commerce Republicans on Wednesday blasted FTC nominee Alvaro Bedoya and FCC nominee Gigi Sohn for their past social media use, and that could signal trouble for their progressive fans.
It started with Bedoya, against whom the committee’s Republicans held a united front. The 14-14 vote on his nomination means that senators will need to spend extra floor time — which is in short supply — to advance his nomination. Then came the attacks on Sohn, with Republicans going after her past tweets. After the hearing, Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) told John that they would put holds on her nomination — a tactic that would also require extra floor time to resolve.
— What’s the big deal? Biden has lagged on nominations, which has frustrated progressives eager to see their priorities enacted. But the two independent agencies remain deadlocked without Bedoya and Sohn, stalling plans to escalate tech antitrust scrutiny and restore net neutrality rules.
Plus, Senate Democrats are facing down a number of deadlines before the end of the year. They want to pass bills on social spending, government funding, the debt limit and Pentagon policy, all before Christmas — which doesn’t leave much wiggle room for protracted confirmation battles.
WITH HOURS TO SPARE — U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman temporarily blocked a Texas law to keep social media platforms from taking down users’ posts based on viewpoint from going into effect today. Pitman wrote in a Wednesday ruling that the plaintiffs — tech industry groups NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association — would likely succeed in their claim that the law was unconstitutional because it violated the First Amendment. (The federal judge heard arguments on the motion on Monday.)
NTIA NOMINATION PUTS BROADBAND PLANS IN CENTER STAGE — Senate confirmation vetting for Davidson, the White House’s nominee to helm the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, is ratcheting up attention on the planned spending of the more than $40 billion in broadband infrastructure grants included in the new infrastructure law.
One big issue is making sure accurate internet coverage data helps guide such investment. Davidson fielded several questions during his Wednesday confirmation hearing on how he’ll handle the titanic spending tasks.
Senate Commerce Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and ranking member Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) are contemplating sending a letter to the Biden administration to try to drill down on their broadband mapping questions, she told reporters Wednesday.
“We just want the administration to come and explain what the challenges are going to be,” Cantwell told reporters. “The key thing here is getting a common denominator about the problem, and I think the maps have been a real bugaboo because I think they’ve projected some story that isn’t really an accurate story. The consequence is we’ve spent a lot of money and not really solved the problem.”
Another concern: how NTIA and FCC will juggle these tasks. The FCC will have to come up with the mapping — a process now underway under Chair Jessica Rosenworcel — while NTIA runs the billions in broadband infrastructure grants. Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) complained during Davidson’s hearing that some would have preferred the FCC handle that infrastructure role, while others worried about how NTIA would safeguard the money. (Meanwhile, Cantwell told reporters she wanted NTIA to have “a more robust role,” noting that might require more legislation.)
“We absolutely need those maps to be able to proceed in the right way,” Davidson told senators. “NTIA will need a capacity surge.” He added that the agency would need states to make transparency and accountability a key part of their plans for the broadband grants, as well as impose from the start strong metrics to track progress.
— A good sign for Davidson: Despite a keen interest in probing implementation of the broadband plans, senators avoided any of the attacks on social media use that hounded Bedoya and Sohn. That bodes well for his confirmation prospects.
MOVE ALONG, MOVE ALONG — The House passed two telecom bills on Wednesday, sending them on in a bipartisan fashion to the Senate. H.R. 4045 (117), introduced by House Energy and Commerce telecom Chair Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), would establish a 6G task force at the FCC composed of industry, public interest, academic and government representatives. The group would be tasked with studying the possibilities and limitations of 6G technology, as well as ways the government could help support its growth. H.R. 2685 (117), introduced by panel member Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), would task the NTIA to submit a report to Congress on the cybersecurity of mobile service networks.
Scott Scheele has joined Kirkland & Ellis as a partner in its antitrust practice. He comes from the DOJ antitrust division, which he joined in 1995. He was most recently chief of the division’s media, entertainment and communications section for nine years, and assistant chief of its networks and technology enforcement section for eight years before that. … Madeline Neuberger is now digital director for Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.). She previously was comms manager for the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, and is a Democratic Party of Georgia and Chuck Schumer alum. … John Howes is now counsel for Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio). He previously was government affairs counsel at the Wireless Infrastructure Association. … Leon Panetta, former Defense secretary and CIA director, will join the Center for Tech Diplomacy at Purdue’s advisory board.
Sarah Makar is joining Tomo, the startup founded by former Zillow executives, as CMO. She was previously Zillow’s SVP of marketing. … Glassdoor announced new executives: Andy Chen will join as chief product officer, Rodrigo Oliveira will join as CTO and Owen Humphries will be promoted to CFO.
Bloomberg released its fifth edition of Bloomberg 50, highlighting “the people and ideas that defined global business in 2021.” On the list: TikTok COO Vanessa Pappas, philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, Roblox CEO David Baszucki, Stripe co-founders Patrick and John Collison, FTC Chair Lina Khan and Discovery CEO David Zaslav. And some familiar names that made Bloomberg’s “no duh” list: Jeff Bezos, Sergey Brin, Tim Cook, Elon Musk, Larry Page and Mark Zuckerberg.
Square has a new name: Block.
The FCC announced the winners of the FCC Chair’s Awards for Advancement in Accessibility: Accessible Pharmacy Services for the Blind, Apple’s iOS 14 and Communication Services for the Deaf’s ASL-based Covid-19 hotline. … The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency announced the first 23 members of its Cybersecurity Advisory Committee, including Twitter’s Vijaya Gadde, Walmart’s Nuala O’Connor, Amazon Web Services’ Stephen Schmidt, former Facebook exec Alex Stamos, Apple’s George Stathakopoulos, Microsoft’s Christopher Young and Nicole Wong, an Obama administration, Google and Twitter alum.
A coalition of advocacy groups — including Fairplay, Accountable Tech, the Center for Digital Democracy and Common Sense — are today launching Designed With Kids in Mind, a campaign calling for a design code to protect children online.
Greenspoon Marder is launching a Miami-based innovation and technology practice. It will be led by partner Eric Galen.
Podcast OTD: “Marietje Schaake calls bulls— on Silicon Valley’s self-regulation mantra.” That and more from POLITICO’s Ryan Heath, who spoke with the Stanford University policy fellow for the latest edition of Global Insider.
Diversity training: “Mursion tells big corporate clients that its VR simulations will help teach racial sensitivity. But the actors playing its Black characters are often white.” More from BuzzFeed.
Looks are deceiving: “How Cute Cats Help Spread Misinformation Online,” NYT reports.
King of the hill: “Amazon funds its empire by squeezing its marketplace sellers,” Recode reports.
Ending with a whimper: “Racy Affair Saga Between Jeff Bezos and Enquirer Reaches Final Chapter,” via WSJ.
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House Science debates how to boost U.S. microelectronics Source link House Science debates how to boost U.S. microelectronics