This Week in Washington IP: Copyright Office Oversight, Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Bill and the Impacts of AI on Consumers and Labor Markets

By IPWatchdog
December 10, 2019

This week in IP news in Washington, D.C., both the House of Representatives and the Senate have several hearings regarding tech and innovation topics before either house of Congress enters its December recess next week. In the House, hearings look to address challenges in critical raw earth materials, federal IT acquisition programs and a bill that would affect how pharmaceutical patent owners can negotiate drug prices with the Medicare and Medicaid programs. In the Senate, the Senate IP Subcommittee will explore modernization efforts at the Copyright Office, while other committees focus on data encryption issues and legislation for energy innovation. Elsewhere in our nation’s capital, The Brookings Institution has a very busy week, co-hosting an event on spreading the location of tech innovation hubs with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and presenting other programs on the impacts of fintech on brokered deposits and AI tech issues related to consumers and labor markets.

Tuesday, December 10

House Committee on Financial Services

Full Committee Markups

At 10:00 AM on Tuesday in 2128 Rayburn House Office Building.

On Tuesday morning, the full House Financial Services Committee will convene a markup session of various proposed resolutions and pieces of legislation, including a few related to innovation and technology. Those include resolutions to establish both the Task Force on Artificial Intelligence and Task Force on Financial Technology within the committee. The committee will also discuss H.R. 1731, the Cybersecurity Disclosure Act of 2019.

House Subcommittee on Energy

Research and Innovation to Address the Critical Materials Challenge

At 10:00 AM on Tuesday in 2318 Rayburn.

Critical materials include rare earth elements with properties useful in many industries, including clean energy, and the Department of Energy’s Critical Materials Institute at the Ames National Laboratory works to develop materials lifecycle solutions to improve critical materials supply and reduce price fluctuations. In late November, the Department of Energy announced the creation of the Plastics Innovation Challenge designed to develop ways to recollect critical materials from plastic waste to be upcycled for reuse. The witness panel for this hearing will include Dr. Adam Schwartz, Director, Ames National Laboratory; Dr. Sophia Hayes, Professor, Department of Chemistry, Washington University in St. Louis; David Weiss, Vice President, Engineering and R&D, Eck Industries, Inc.; and Dr. Carol Handwerker, Reinhardt Schuhmann Jr. Professor, Materials Engineering & Environmental and Ecological Engineering, Purdue University.

Senate Committee on the Judiciary

Encryption and Lawful Access: Evaluating Benefits and Risks to Public Safety and Privacy

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

Data encryption is a powerful tool for keeping personal data safe from prying eyes but it can also provide safe harbor to malevolent actors in human trafficking, illicit drug sales and more. This July, Attorney General William Barr gave a keynote address at the International Conference on Cyber Security in New York City where he urged the tech community to “reconcile good cybersecurity to the imperative of public safety and national security.” The witness panel for this hearing has yet to be announced.

House Committee on Rules

Meeting Announcement for H.R. 3 and H.R. 5038

At 3:00 PM on Tuesday in H-313, The Capitol.

On Tuesday afternoon, the House Rules Committee will meet to discuss a pair of proposed bills including H.R. 3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act of 2019. This bill would impact drug pricing negotiations by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) by giving the agency the power to set maximum prices for insulin products and brand name drugs that doesn’t exceed a certain percentage of the average price paid for the same drugs in other countries. This bill would obviously impact the power that pharmaceutical patent owners have in negotiating the market value of their drugs.


Wednesday, December 11

Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation

Executive Session

At 10:00 AM on Wednesday in G50 Dirksen.

On Wednesday morning, the Senate Commerce Committee will meet to consider 13 legislative measures. Several of these are related to technology and innovation including S.2204, the Data Analytics Robocall Technology Act; S.2730, the Drone Advisory Committee for the 21st Century Act; and S.2881, the 5G Spectrum Act.

The Brookings Institution

Brokered Deposits in the Fintech Age

At 10:00 AM on Wednesday in the Saul/Zilkha Auditorium, The Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20036.

The increased use of financial technologies, or fintech, in brokered deposits has raised concerns as to whether regulators should act to protect consumer safety. This event will feature a speech by Jelena McWilliams, Chairman, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, who will join a fireside chat following her remarks with Aaron Klein, Fellow, Economic Studies, and Director, Center on Regulation and Markets. Following that chat, Klein will moderate a discussion with a panel of experts including Sharmir Karkal, Co-Founder and CEO, Sila; Dennis Kelleher, President and CEO, Better Markets; and Alison Touhey, Vice President and Senior Regulatory Officer, Office of Regulatory Policy, American Bankers Association.

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

The Brookings Institution

Spreading Tech Hubs to More of America: A Proposal

At 1:30 PM on Wednesday in Room SVC-208, U.S. Capitol Visitor Center.

Despite the incredible growth of America’s tech sector over the past few decades, tech developers continue to be concentrated in a few high-cost hubs, causing much of the country to miss out on the economic windfall provided by innovation. This event, a joint program of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) and the Brookings Institution, will feature a discussion supporting a national competition to select up to 10 metropolitan areas to receive policy support that encourages development of the tech sector. Speakers at this event will include Senator Chris Coons (D-DE); Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS); Robert Atkinson, President, ITIF; and Mark Muro, Fellow and Policy Director, Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program.

House Subcommittee on Government Operations


At 2:00 PM on Wednesday in 2154 Rayburn.

This hearing will feature the release of the ninth edition of the federal government’s information technology (IT) acquisition scorecard required by the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA). The eighth edition of the FITARA scorecard, released this summer, showed no perfect scores for government agencies but did give high marks to the Small Business Administration and the National Science Foundation. The witness panel for this hearing has yet to be released.

Senate Subcommittee on Intellectual Property

Oversight of Modernization of the United States Copyright Office

At 2:00 PM on Wednesday in 226 Dirksen.

The U.S. Copyright Office has been undergoing an effort to modernize the agency’s registration and recordation systems in recent months and the leadership of the Senate IP Subcommittee has been very active in its oversight of this program. In late November, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), chair of the Senate IP Subcommittee, sent a letter to the leadership of the Copyright Office asking the agency to share a backlog of planned IT upgrade action items. The witness panel at this hearing will include the Honorable Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress, Library of Congress; Karyn Temple, Register of Copyrights and Director, U.S. Copyright Office; and Bernard Barton, Chief Information Officer, Library of Congress.

Thursday, December 12

Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

Business Meeting to Consider Pending Legislation

At 10:00 AM on Thursday in 366 Dirksen.

On Thursday morning, the Senate Energy Committee will convene a business hearing to discuss various pieces of proposed legislation, several of which relate to technology and innovation. These include S. 1890, the Renew America’s Schools Act of 2019, which would provide grants for energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements at public schools; S.2399, a bill to amend the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to improve State loan eligibility for projects for innovative technology; and S.2660, the Wind Energy Research and Development Act of 2019.

The Brookings Institution

Automation, Labor Market Institutions, and the Middle Class

At 9:00 AM on Thursday at the Saul/Zilkha Auditorium, The Brookings Institution.

Major changes on the labor market are being wrought by the development of automated technologies such as robotics and the middle class will increasingly turn to public policy, private institutions and businesses for support in adapting to new labor market realities. This event will feature various presentations from experts on topics such as Automation – A Guide for Policymakers, presented by James Bessen, Boston University School of Law; A Tale of Two Workers, presented by Henry Siu, University of British Columbia and NBER; Automation, Organized Labor, and the Employment Trajectories of Workers in Routine Jobs, presented by Zachary Parolin, Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University; and The Evolution of Technological Substitution in Low-Wage Labor Markets, presented by Brian Phelan, DePaul University. The event will also feature a keynote address by Ryan Avent, Senior Editor and Economics Columnist, The Economist.

The Brookings Institution

Lessons of History, Law, and Public Opinion for AI Development

At 10:00 AM on Thursday at the Saul/Zilkha Auditorium, The Brookings Institution.

Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have caused concern over their impacts on consumers but it is simply the latest generational wave of tech development to cause such issues following similar debates during the rise of the telegraph, television or robots. This event will feature a discussion with a panel of experts including Darrell West, Vice President and Director, Governance Studies, and Founding Director, Center for Technology Innovation; Alex Engler, Rubenstein Fellow, Governance Studies; Melissa Whitney, Counsel, DLA Piper; and moderated by Baobao Zhang, PhD Candidate, Yale University.


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