This Week on Capitol Hill: Drone Security Developments, Clean Energy Innovations, and Think Tanks Look at Patent Reform and Drug Pricing

This week on Capitol Hill, the U.S. Senate will hold hearings on enhancing drone innovation and addressing cybersecurity concerns; reducing prescription drug prices; and developments in geothermal energy technologies. The House of Representatives will host a hearing on clean energy tech development as well as a markup meeting on a proposed bill to increase participation in STEM careers. Meanwhile, think tanks the American Enterprise Institute and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation will take a look at the patent reform debate with Representative Steve Stivers (R-OH) and explore the potential effects of proposed drug pricing reforms on innovation in the pharmaceutical sector, respectively.

Monday, June 17 

The Brookings Institution 

China’s Payment System: Revolution, Evolution, or Passing Fad? 

At 2:00 PM on Monday in the Saul/Zilkha Room, Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036.

Chinese businesses have developed an alternative payment system that enables payments between parties using quick response (QR) codes and smartphones and doesn’t require a bank account. While this is an advance over the traditional magnetic-stripe card, this event will explore if this payment system is revolutionary at all and lessons the United States can learn from the development and implementation of this system. The event begins with a presentation of a Chinese payment system report by Aaron Klein, Fellow in Economic Studies and Director of the Center on Regulation and Markets. Klein’s presentation is followed by a discussion with a panel including Frank Tuscano, Senior Manager, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd.; Claudia Biancotti, Visiting Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics; and Yiping Huang, Director, Institute of Digital Finance, Peking University. The panel discussion will be moderated by David Dollar, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Global Economy and Development, John L. Thornton China Center. 

Tuesday, June 18

Senate Subcommittee on Security

Drone Security: Enhancing Innovation and Mitigating Supply Chain Risks

At 2:30 PM on Tuesday in 562 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

In late May, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a public alert regarding security threats posed by unmanned aerial systems (UAS), commonly known as “drones,” especially for Chinese-made UAS that could enable unauthorized access to data collected by the drones. Disruptions caused by drones in the airspace have led to the development of counter-UAS (C-UAS) technologies that can hijack drones flying near airports and safely land them away from those facilities. This hearing will explore the capabilities of UAS detection and mitigation technologies as well as cybersecurity issues related to drones. The witness panel for this hearing will include Dr. Catherine Cahill, Director, Alaska Center for UAS Integration, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks; Harold Shaw, Chief Security Officer and Director of the Corporate Security and Emergency Preparedness Department, Massachusetts Port Authority; Angela Stubblefield, Deputy Associate Administrator, Office of Security and Hazardous Materials, Federal Aviation Administration; Harry Wingo, Faculty, College of Information and Cyberspace, National Defense University; and Brian Wynne, President and CEO, Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. 

Wednesday, June 19 

Senate Special Committee on Aging

The Complex Web of Prescription Drug Prices, Part III: Examining Agency Efforts to Further Competition and Increase Affordability

At 9:15 AM on Wednesday in 562 Dirksen.

Patents have been a major focus at various points of the debate over prescription drug prices that has been growing on Capitol Hill during the 116th Congress. Various efforts to cut prescription drug prices, including a new rule mandating that drug manufacturers include a drug’s list price in any commercials for that medication, have increased the burden on pharmaceutical companies that invest money to develop new treatments. The witness panel for this hearing will include Demetrios Kouzoukas, Principal Deputy Administrator and Director of the Center for Medicare, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services; Janet Woodcock, Director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration; and Vicki Robinson, Senior Counselor for Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General.

House Subcommittee on Energy

Fossil Energy Research: Enabling Our Clean Energy Future

At 2:00 PM on Wednesday in 2318 Rayburn House Office Building.

The Trump Administration’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2020 includes deep cuts to many government programs but it also contains significant increases for early-stage fossil fuel and energy technology development to aid entrepreneurs who want to start businesses that leverage the country’s natural resources. However, on June 11, the U.S. Department of State announced the Energy Resource Governance Initiative (ERGI), a program designed to improve supply chains for energy resource minerals that are growing in demand due to their application in electric vehicle, battery storage and renewable energy technologies. The witness panel for this hearing will include Shannon Angielski, Executive Director, Carbon Utilization Research Council; Elgie Holstein, Senior Director for Strategic Planning, Environmental Defense Fund; Jeff Bobeck, Director of Energy Policy Engagement, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions; Erin Burns, Director of Policy, Carbon180; and Dr. Erik Webb, Senior Manager, Geoscience Research and Applications, Sandia National Laboratories.

Thursday, June 20

American Enterprise Institute

Patent Reform in 2019: A Conversation With Rep. Steve Stivers 

At 8:30 AM on Thursday in the AEI Auditorium, 1789 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036.

This event will feature an exploration of current issues in U.S. patent law, including patent eligibility reform and inter partes review (IPR) proceedings, with Representative Steve Stivers (R-OH), who has himself introduced the STRONGER Patents Act of 2018. Stivers will give some opening remarks and then be joined for a discussion with Michael Rosen of AEI. Following that will be a discussion with a panel including Phil Johnson, Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform; Josh Landau, Computer and Communications Industry Association; Karin Norton, Samsung; and Hans Sauer, Biotechnology Innovation Organization.

House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

Full Committee Markup

At 10:00 AM on Thursday in 2318 Rayburn.

The House Science Committee will convene a meeting on Thursday morning to markup a series of four bills including H.R. 2528, the STEM Opportunities Act of 2019. Introduced in early May into the House by Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Frank Lucas (R-OK), respectively the Chairwoman and Ranking Member of the House Science Committee, this bill is designed to increase the participation of underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers by increasing the collection of demographic data from federal research award recipients and authorizing the National Science Foundation to expand research-based practices that would increase the recruitment of minority students and faculty.

Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources 

Full Committee Hearing to Examine Geothermal Energy Development

At 10:00 AM on Thursday in 366 Dirksen.

On May 30, the U.S. Department of Energy released an analysis of geothermal energy developments which indicated that electricity generation from geothermal sources could reach 60 gigawatts by the year 2050 if advances are encouraged through the acceleration of geothermal development timelines through partnerships between academia, industry, national laboratories and federal agencies. The witness panel for this hearing includes the Honorable Daniel Simmons, Assistant Secretary, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy; Timothy Spisak, State Director, BLM New Mexico, U.S. Department of the Interior; Tim Latimer, CEO, Fervo Energy; Paul Thomsen, Vice President, Business Development – Americas, Ormat Technologies, Inc.; and Katherine Young, Geothermal Program Manager, National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

The Cost of Cures: Drug Price Controls vs. Biopharmaceutical Innovation

At 2:00 PM on Thursday in 385 Russell Senate Office Building.

Medicare cost controls, changes to U.S. patent law and government-led arbitration have all been proposed by politicians on either side of the aisle who are looking at ways to bring down health care costs for American citizens. This event will explore the effects that mandated reductions in drug pricing would have on both biopharmaceutical innovation and the international competitiveness of the U.S. pharmaceutical industry. This event will feature a discussion with a panel including Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President, American Action Forum; Stephen Ezell, Vice President, Global Innovation Policy, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation; and Andrew Spiegel, Executive Director, Global Colon Cancer Association.

Friday, June 21

The Heritage Foundation

Will We Ban “Hate Speech”? Lessons from Europe and the Threat of Big Tech

At 12:00 PM on Friday in Lehrman Auditorium, The Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Ave. N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002.

In America, popular sentiment for bans on hate speech has been growing in recent years but in Europe, where such bans are actually in force, such policies have led to prosecutions of priests, politicians and private citizens in a way that has dramatically hurt the ability of people to self-govern. This event will explore how the big tech industry has been working to shift American speech laws to align more closely with European policies. This event will feature a discussion with a panel including Paul Coleman, Executive Director, Alliance Defending Freedom International and Author of Censored: Why European Laws are a Threat to Free Speech; Klon Kitchen, Senior Research Fellow, Technology; and Arthur Milikh, Associate Director and Research Fellow. The panel discussion will be moderated by Dr. John York, Policy Analyst.


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Join the Discussion

One comment so far.

  • [Avatar for Pro Say]
    Pro Say
    June 17, 2019 02:04 pm

    Sorry, but:

    1. We don’t have to follow Patent Office 101 / eligibility Guidance.

    2. Because birds have been flying for some millions of years, drones are merely abstract and therefore not eligible for patents.

    Sincerely yours,
    The CAFC