This Week on Capitol Hill: Space Commerce, Energy Innovation and Modernizing Congress’ IT

This week in our nation’s capital, the House of Representatives hosts a series of hearings in the middle of the week on various technology topics including carbon mitigation efforts, modernizing information technology systems in Congress, sustainable chemistry innovations and examination of the White House’s science budget. In. Elsewhere in D.C., the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation explores law enforcement use of facial recognition technologies while the Brookings Institution hosts events on autonomous vehicles and the impact of information technologies on the digital economy.

Although not strictly on Capitol Hill, or even more generally in the nation’s capital, the United States Patent and Trademark Office will host a special celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing by discussing the role of intellectual property in space commerce — Apollo 50: The Role of Intellectual Property in Space Commerce. The event features Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, USPTO Director Andrei Iancu, Astronaut Kathryn Sullivan and Astronaut Paul Richards. It will take place in the Clara Barton Auditorium in the Madison Building at USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, VA, on Tuesday, July 23 from 2 to 4:30pm.

The Role of IP in Space Comerce

Wednesday, July 24

Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

Business Meeting

At 9:30 AM on Wednesday in 342 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

The Senate Homeland Security Committee will convene a business hearing on Wednesday morning to consider various nominations and proposed pieces of legislation. This includes the proposed nomination of William Bryan to serve as the Under Secretary for Science and Technology in the Department of Homeland Security as well as consideration of S. 2065, the Deepfake Report Act of 2019, which would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to publish an annual report on the use of deepfake technology.


House Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change

Building America’s Clean Future: Pathways to Decarbonize the Economy

At 10:00 AM on Wednesday in 2123 Rayburn.

Conversations surrounding the idea of building a cleaner American economy have typically focused on efforts to shift our energy focus away from fossil fuels and towards more sustainable, renewable forms of energy. However, the direct capture of airborne carbon has attracted more interest but funding levels are well below the $1.2 billion to $2.4 billion annual level recommendedby the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine for advancing such technologies. The witness panel for this hearing hasn’t been announced yet.


Brookings Institution

The Future of ICT in the Digital Economy

At 10:00 AM on Wednesday at Brookings Institution, Saul/Zilkha Auditorium, 1775 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036.

This event will explore trends in the information and communications technology (ICT) industry including ways in which the sector is improving economic productivity, undesirable social outcomes and a recent Brookings reporton the impact of information technologies on U.S. job creation and privacy issues. The event will feature a discussion with a panel including Karim Foda, Economist, International Monetary Fund, and former Brookings Expert; J. David Brown, Senior Economist, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau; and Tom Wheeler, Visiting Fellow, Governance Studies, Center for Technology Innovation. The discussion panel will be moderated by Makada Henry-Nickie, David M. Rubenstein Fellow, Governance Studies, Race, Prosperity, and Inclusion Initiative.


House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies

Budget and Oversight Hearing: White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

At 10:15 AM on Wednesday in 2358-A Rayburn.

The 2020 fiscal year budget proposed by the administration of President Donald Trump represented the third straight year of requested funding cuts at many federal science agencies. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released a statement regarding the budget this March, indicating that the budget promotes responsible spending and focuses on programs which have shown evidence of being effective. The sole witness for this hearing is Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier, Director, White House OSTP.


Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

Executive Session

At 10:30 AM on Wednesday in 216 Hart Senate Office Building.

The Senate Commerce Committee will convene an executive session on Wednesday morning to consider various pieces of legislation including three related to 5G network and broadband Internet technologies: S. 893, the Secure 5G and Beyond Act of 2019; S. 1625,the United States 5G Leadership Act of 2019; and S. 1822, the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act of 2019.


House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress

Modernizing Legislative Information Technologies: Lessons From the States

At 2:00 PM on Wednesday in 2020 Rayburn.

The Chief Administrative Office of the House of Representatives handles requests for technology acquisitions from incoming House members and, with the 116th Congress seeing the second-largest freshman class of Representatives in U.S. history, such requests have been growing. This hearing will explore state-level efforts to improve technology, such as Arizona’s plans to shift services to cloud-based systemsto improve the resiliency of their governmental systems. The witness panel for this hearing hasn’t been announced yet.


Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

The Value of Facial Recognition in Law Enforcemen

At 2:00 PM on Wednesday at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, 1101 K St. N.W., Suite 610A, Washington, D.C. 20005.

The use of facial recognition technologies by law enforcement has been a controversial topic at all levels of government but implementing these technologies could have very positive impacts in solving crimes, securely identifying individuals at ports of entry or as security countermeasures in public places. This event will explore safeguards governing law enforcement use of facial recognition technologies and legitimate concerns that can be addressed by policymakers. The event features a discussion with a panel including James Burch, President, National Police Foundation; Michael Hardin, Director of Policy, U.S. Customs and Border Protection; Benji Hutchinson, Vice President of Federal Operations, NEC Corporation of America; and Eddie Reyes, Director of the Office of Public Safety Communications, Prince William County Virginia Police Department. The panel discussion will be moderated by Daniel Castro, Vice President, ITIF, and Director, Center for Data Innovation.


Thursday, July 25

Brookings Institution

Autonomous Cars: Science, Technology, and Policy

At 8:45 AM on Thursday at Brookings Institution, Falk Auditorium.

Driverless cars and their impact on driver safety, improved traffic efficiency and shorter commute times have been widely discussed in recent years. This all-day event will focus on efforts to connect vehicles to smart infrastructure with perspectives from engineers, researchers, economists and government officials. The opening keynote address will be given by Kenneth Leonard, Director, U.S. Department of Transportation Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office. Following the keynote will be engineering presentations on autonomous vehicles, traffic and humans, as well as smart infrastructure. Following lunch will be another keynote address given by Derek Kan, Under Secretary for Policy, U.S. Department of Transportation. After the second keyonte will be two discussion panels on policy issues as well as public and private sector collaboration.


House Subcommittee on Research and Technology

Benign By Design: Innovations in Sustainable Chemistry

At 10:00 AM on Thursday in 2318 Rayburn

In early April, the Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development Act was introduced into both houses of Congress. The bill would create a work group within the White House National Science and Technology Council which would coordinate R&D efforts in developing sustainable chemistrythat meets the needs of Americans for chemical products while reducing environmental harms and minimize hazardous chemical outputs. The witness panel for this hearing will include Dr. Tim Persons, Chief Scientist and Managing Director, Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics, U.S. Government Accountability Office; Dr. John Warner, President and Chief Technology Officer, Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry; Dr. Julie Zimmerman, Professor and Senior Associate Dean, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Deputy Director, Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering, Yale University; Anne Kolton, Executive Vice President, Communications, Sustainability, and Market Outreach, American Chemistry Council; and Mitchell Toomey, Director of Sustainability, BASF in North America.


House Subcommittee on Technology Modernization

VistA Transition: Assessing the Future of an Electronic Health Records Pioneer

At 10:00 AM on Thursday in 210 House Visitors Center.

The Veterans Information System and Technology Architecture (VistA) has operated as a patient health records system for U.S. military veterans since 1977. A $10 billion contract signed in 2018 with the Cerner Corporation, however, will involve the migration of electronic health records managed by the Department of Veterans Affairs from VistA to a new database. The witness panel for this hearing hasn’t been announced yet.


Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

Full Committee Hearing on Energy Innovation

At 10:00 AM on Thursday in 366 Dirksen.

Last November, the American Energy Innovation Council issued a report on energy innovationwhich recommended annual investments of $16 billion on advanced energy innovation, including $1 billion in annual funding for the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) program, to support American economic growth. This hearing will examine the importance of energy innovation to U.S. economic growth and competitiveness. The witness panel for this hearing hasn’t been announced yet.


House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics

The Commercial Space Landscape: Innovation, Market, and Policy

At 2:00 PM on Thursday in 2318 Rayburn.

In late July, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine wrote an op-ed published in The Hill where he discussed the importance of the space agency’s return to the lunar surface for many initiatives including efforts to grow the commercial space industry. Around the same time, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) discussed the importance of American small businesses to space explorationat a field hearing of the Senate Small Business Committee at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. The witness panel for this hearing that will address space commerce innovation and policy will include Dr. Bhavya Lal, Research Staff Member, IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute; Carissa Christensen, Chief Executive Officer, Bryce Space and Technology; Eric Stallmer, President, Commercial Spaceflight Federation; and Mike French, Vice President, Space Systems, Aerospace Industries Association.


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Join the Discussion

One comment so far.

  • [Avatar for Benny]
    July 23, 2019 05:42 am

    I had to follow a few links to find out what”space commerce” really means. It means commercial navigation, communication and weather satellites. Of course, the commerce is here on Earth. There is nowhere to spend money in space.