Connect with us

Congress

Republicans Leaders in a ‘Tight Spot’ After Insurrection Led By Trump, Say Brookings Panelists

Published

on

Screenshot of panelists from the Brookings Institution webinar

January 19, 2021—The riots that led to an insurrection on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 continue to shock Americans and the world abroad. With less than an adequate defense, Congress could well have faced mass casualties in the Capitol building.

The aftermath of the insurrection leaves current Republican leaders in a tight spot, according to panelists participating in a virtual event at the Brookings Institution on Tuesday.

Moderate Republicans fear retaliation if they do not support Trump supporters. Yet, allowing past and present political circumstances to culminate into another insurrectionist-like event must be stopped, said Susan Hennessey, a senior fellow at the institution.

Republicans have long gone against democratic norms and are falling into a disturbing pattern, said Elaine Kamarck, another senior fellow at Brookings. Senior Fellow Molly Reynolds, added that the country needs “to reflect on the degree to which white supremacy is at the center of the attack on how the U.S. conducts its elections.”

In short, the Republican party must now figure out how to balance its internal beliefs with external pressures, mainly coming from President Donald Trump himself.

The panelists pointed to the effect social media, and the capabilities allotted to platforms under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, had on elections. The moderation actions and inactions of social media companies play a significant role in how information is spread and received.

“Convincing those who disagree with the integrity of the elections is a challenge still looming,” said Rashawn Ray, a fellow at Brookings. Ray said that Trump and those before him have eroded trust in the government, media, and even science.

“The more we learn, the worse it looks,” added John Hudak, senior fellow in governance studies at Brookings, saying the Presidential election of 2020 is a watershed moment in U.S. history, as it marks the first time a president refused to concede and recognize election results peacefully. President Trump’s refusal to engage in diplomatic and ceremonious traditions, including attacking the election results’ credibility, has caused outrage never before seen, he said.

All of the senior fellows at Brookings largely agreed that Trump would not be convicted by the two-third vote necessary in the Senate following the House’s second impeachment of Trump. But it could be close. They agreed that the Sente trial would symbolize how urgent Republican leaders feel it is to callout Trump’s behavior as unacceptable.

Many have expressed disappointment with Vice President Mike Pence for not invoking Section 4 of the 25th Amendment in the aftermath of the Capitol insurrection, which could have removed more quickly than a House impeachment and Senate trial.

However, invoking the 25th amendment is not an easy decision to make, Kamarck noted. She quoted Pence, saying, the 25th amendment “was not intended as a means of punishment or usurpation.” The 25th amendment should only be used if the person in question, is truly out of his mind and ill-fit.

Pence had to “thread the needle,” said Kamarck, as he chose not to punish or usurp President Trump of his power, balancing the challenges of being a mainstream Republican without estranging himself from the Republican party. Pence made it clear he would not give into President Trump’s demand that he refuse the certification of votes.

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris face a near-impossible challenge of determining the best way to unify the country under such polarized conditions, they said. Yet many in America are looking to the new administration to present and execute a plan to get out of it.

China

New Leadership and Priorities for Republican-Led Energy and Commerce Committee

The new chair renamed three subcommittees, hinting at the GOP’s goals for the coming term.

Published

on

Photo of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers in 2018 by Gage Skidmore, used with permission

WASHINGTON, January 27, 2023 — Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., recently named chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, announced on Wednesday the new Republican leadership and membership of each subcommittee, giving insight into which members of Congress will be at the forefront of key technology decisions over the coming term.

McMorris Rodgers also announced changes to the committee’s structure, renaming three subcommittees and shifting some of their responsibilities. The changes aim to “ensure our work tackles the greatest challenges and most important priorities of the day, including lowering energy costs, beating China and building a more secure future,” McMorris Rodgers told Fox News.

Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., D-N.J. — now the committee’s ranking member after serving as chair for the past four years — announced on Friday each subcommittee’s Democratic membership and leadership, and named Rep. Kim Schrier, D-Wash., as the vice ranking member for the full committee.

Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., who will serve as the committee’s vice chair, is a vocal critic of Big Tech. In 2021, he was one of several Republicans who championed major reforms to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

The committee’s new names hint at some of the ways that the committee’s priorities may shift as Republicans take control. The former Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee is now titled the Innovation, Data and Commerce Subcommittee and will be chaired by Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., alongside Ranking Member Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.

Bilirakis and McMorris Rodgers have already announced the subcommittee’s first hearing, which will focus on U.S. global technology leadership and competition with China.

The Communications and Technology Subcommittee, now led by Chair Bob Latta, R-Ohio, and Ranking Member Doris Matsui, D-Calif., also emphasized competition with China in the announcement of a hearing on the global satellite industry.

Latta has previously spoken out against the total repeal of Section 230, but he has also expressed concerns about the extent to which it protects tech companies. In an April 2021 op-ed written jointly with Bilirakis, Latta accused social media platforms of engaging in “poisonous practices… that drive depression, isolation and suicide.”

The Environment, Manufacturing and Critical Minerals Subcommittee, formerly known as the Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee, will be led by Chair Bill Johnson, R-Ohio and Ranking Member Paul Tonko, D-N.Y.

The Energy Climate, and Grid Security Subcommittee, formerly known as the Energy Subcommittee, will be led by Chair Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., and Ranking Member Diana DeGette, D-Colo.

The Health Subcommittee will be led by Chair Brett Guthrie, R-Ky., and Ranking Member Anna Eshoo, D-Calif. The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee will be led by Chair Morgan Griffith, R-Va., and Ranking Member Kathy Castor, D-Fla.

Continue Reading

Digital Inclusion

CES 2023: Congressional Oversight, Digital Equity Priorities for New Mexico Senator

Sen. Lujan once again voiced concern that the FCC’s national broadband map contains major inaccuracies.

Published

on

Photo of Sen. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., in February 2018 by Keith Mellnick used with permission

LAS VEGAS, January 6, 2023 – Sen. Ben Ray Lujan on Friday endorsed “oversight at every level” of executive agencies’ broadband policies and decried service providers that perpetuate digital inequities.

Lujan appeared before an audience at the Consumer Electronics Show with Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., to preview the tech-policy priorities of the 118th Congress.

Among Washington legislators, Senators had CES 2023 to themselves: Representatives from the House of Representatives were stuck in Washington participating on Friday in the 12th, 13th and 14th votes for House Speaker.

Congress allocated $65 billion to broadband projects in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, the bulk of which, housed in the $42.45 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program, is yet to be disbursed. The IIJA funds are primarily for infrastructure, but billions are also available for digital equity and affordability projects.

Several federal legislators, including Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., have called for close supervision of Washington’s multitude of broadband-related programs. At CES on Friday, Warner argued that previous tranches of broadband funding have been poorly administered, and Lujan once again voiced concern that the Federal Communications Commission’s national broadband map, whose data will be used to allocate BEAD funds, contains major inaccuracies.

Affordable, high-speed broadband is now a necessity, stated Warner. Lujan argued that policy must crafted to ensure all communities have access to connectivity.

“The [Federal Communications Commission] is working on some of the digital equity definitions right now…. I don’t want to see definitions that create loopholes that people can hide behind to not connect communities,” the New Mexico senator said, emphasizing the importance of “the digital literacy to be able take advantage of what this new connection means, so that people can take advantage of what I saw today [at CES].”

At a Senate hearing in December, Lujan grilled executives from industry trade associations over allegations of digital discrimination.

Continue Reading

Congress

Omnibus Bill Includes FCC Spectrum Auction Extension, TikTok Ban on Government Devices

The spending package includes an extension of the FCC’s auction authority to March 2023.

Published

on

Photo of Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-IL.

WASHINGTON, December 20, 2022 – A massive omnibus spending bill for fiscal 2023 released Tuesday includes a provision to extend the Federal Communications Commission’s spectrum auction authority at least until March 2023.

The commission’s authority has already been extended from September to December. But Tuesday’s $1.7 trillion appropriations bill to power the government through September would extend that authority further to March 9, 2023.

Experts and FCC officials have warned about letting lapse the commission’s authority to auction the valuable airwaves, which power wireless communications services.

Meanwhile, a bill introduced earlier this year, would extend the commission’s authority to March 31, 2024.

TikTok ban on government devices

The omnibus bill also includes a ban on video sharing app TikTok on government devices, cited in the bill as the “No TikTok on Government Devices Act.” The Chinese-owned company has been flagged as a possible national security threat because of its ties to the Chinese Communist government.

The provision requires that not later than 60 days after the bill’s enactment, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, in consultation with relevant agencies, “develop standards and guidelines for executive agencies requiring the removal of any covered application from information technology.”

The ban also covers any further apps developed or owned by TikTok parent company ByteDance.

Earlier this month, Maryland moved to eliminate the app from government devices and networks.

Consumer protection, cybersecurity measures

The sprawling bill also includes a provision to establish a national standard for online seller transparency and require the Federal Trade Commission to report on cross-border cyber attacks.

Rep. Frank Pallone, D-NJ., and Jan Schakowsky, D-IL., advocated for enhanced protections in the bill that puts the FTC at its center. That includes a Schakowsky-authored provision establishing a national standard – enforced by the competition agency and state attorneys general – that requires online platforms to verify the identity of high-volume third-party sellers so that consumers can get basic identification on the sellers.

Another provision, also authored by Schakowsky — chair of the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee — would require the FTC to report on cross-border complaints about ransomware and other cyber attacked committed by foreign individuals, companies and governments, specifically Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran.

Over the past two years, the U.S. has been the subject of major cyberattacks that struck financial services, oil transport, and software companies.

“This end-of-year package is in lock step with our Committee’s commitment to put consumers first,” said the representatives in a joint statement. “It includes legislation that will help curb the onslaught of counterfeit, defective, and unsafe products available to Americans shopping on third-party e-commerce sites—a major source of fake and unsafe goods. It also includes commonsense provisions to keep dangerous furniture products that can tip over on small children off the market and out of our homes.”

Congress is reportedly pushing for the passing of the bill before Christmas.

Continue Reading

Signup for Broadband Breakfast

Twice-weekly Breakfast Media news alerts
* = required field

Broadband Breakfast Research Partner

Trending