technology

Space Corps Proposal Has Military Brass Going Orbital

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, center, seen here with Gen. David L. Goldfein, right, chief of staff of the Air Force, is opposed to the creation of Space Corps, seeing it as within the purview of her service branch. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It was, to be sure, a bold and audacious move from a relatively unknown member of Congress, who moved forward despite fervent objections from both the Defense Department and the White House and not so much as a full committee hearing or debate.

Alabama Republican Mike D. Rogers nevertheless used his perch atop a House Armed Services subcommittee to slip language into the annual Pentagon policy bill to create an entirely new military service focused on space.

Lawmakers Push Broad Review of Equifax Security
Democrats cite precedence of reaction to OPM data breach

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown wants Equifax to offer 10 years of free credit monitoring to those affected by the breach. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers are responding to credit-reporting company Equifax’s loss of data on up to 143 million customers with a flurry of proposed legislation, demands for explanations, hearings and calls for regulators to investigate.

Democrats are leading the charge on legislation and investigations while Republicans join in with demands for an explanation from the company and with plans to hold hearings. Members of both parties are seeking details of Equifax’s work for government agencies. Democrats are also trying to pressure Republicans to be at least as tough on Equifax as they were with a government agency that suffered its own breach.

Thune, Peters Divide Over Big Trucks in Driverless Vehicle Bill
“Highly-automated trucks are not ripe for inclusion”

Trucks of Otto, an autonomous trucking company acquired by Uber. (Courtesy Dllu/Wikimedia Commons - CC BY-SA 4.0)

Members of a key Senate committee are divided over whether to include large trucks in legislation that would guide driverless-vehicle regulation in a disagreement that pits safety against jobs in the trucking industry.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said at a hearing Wednesday that autonomous vehicles will improve safety and lower emissions. He said trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds should be included in the legislation. 

Crapo Not Committed to Banking Hearing on Equifax Breach
Chairman says staff is studying topic

Senate Banking Chairman Michael D. Crapo, left, seen here with ranking member Sherrod Brown, says he is undecided about holding a hearing on the Equifax data breach. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Banking Chairman Michael D. Crapo said Tuesday his staff was studying the data breach at Equifax, but he hasn’t decided whether to hold a hearing on the issue and he wasn’t sure if the breach would affect the Republican effort to repeal the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s arbitration rule.

The Idaho Republican led a committee hearing Tuesday on a separate issue — the promise and the dangers of the burgeoning financial technology industries, like blockchain and mobile lending — but the event was overshadowed by the breach that Equifax has said may have resulted in the theft of personal information of up to 143 million Americans.

Congress Braces for Tense Debate on Surveillance Law
Spy agencies argue for permanent reauthorization of FISA amendments

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., is sponsoring legislation to reauthorize the 2012 FISA amendments with no sunsets. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers are facing a potentially bruising fight over a surveillance law that expires Dec. 31 and must be extended in time to preserve what U.S. spy agencies consider a vital piece of their arsenal.

Congress has to extend the 2012 FISA Amendments Act, which will pit the Trump administration and national security hawks in Congress who favor a permanent reauthorization with no changes, against lawmakers of both parties, libertarians, privacy advocates and communications companies seeking to tighten protections for U.S. persons whose communications may get caught up in the wide electronic net cast by spy agencies.

Wasserman Schultz Defends Keeping Fired IT Worker
‘I believe that I did the right thing, and I would do it again,’ Florida congresswoman says

Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said she believes fired IT worker Imran Awan is getting additional scrutiny because he is Muslim. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz defended keeping a fired IT worker on her payroll despite the fact he was banned from the House network and fired by another member of Congress. 

Wasserman Schultz said it would have been easier to fire Imran Awan.

Polis Pushes Congress to Support Risk-Takers
Colorado Democrat is visiting four startups in his district, holding roundtable for Startup Day

For last year’s Startup Day, Colorado Rep. Jared Polis visited a company that makes 100 percent American-made watches. (Courtesy Polis’ office)

Members of Congress are marking Startup Day Across America on Tuesday to support and promote startups in their districts, and Rep. Jared Polis has a busy schedule. 

The Colorado Democrat, who is vacating his seat to run for governor, was an internet entrepreneur and venture capitalist before entering Congress, and he’s now committed to supporting those with aspirations similar to his.

App Challenge Brings Congress, Young Coders Closer
162 members now sponsor district winners in annual competition

Melissa Medina, left, and Arkansas Rep. Bruce Westerman listen to a student demo her winning app in the 2016 Congressional App Challenge. (Courtesy Melissa Medina)

The third annual Congressional App Challenge, in which members feature their young constituents’ entrepreneurial work in the technology field, launches Wednesday.

Student coders have until Nov. 1 to submit entries to their participating members of Congress. 

Congress Still Grappling With Cybersecurity Concerns
Experts say networks on Capitol Hill lag in basic protections

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, seen here at a 2015 #Hack4Congress event at Google’s offices in Washington, is one of several lawmakers who have pushed for improved security for congressional computer networks. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers and their staffs have been aware for years that their internet communications could be prime targets for both foreign and domestic spies.

But after last year’s hacking of the Democratic National Committee by Russian operatives, many are reassessing security protocols that once seemed sufficient — even overbearing — and finding them lacking.

US Cybersecurity in Need of Rapid Repair, Senators Told
Ex-Pentagon aide warns of large-scale attack by North Korea

Massachusetts Sen. Edward J. Markey is concerned about cybersecurity deficiencies in the private sector, particularly in utility companies. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Cybersecurity in the United States is in a severe state of disrepair, leaving the country vulnerable to attack from hacking groups backed by its opponents, two witnesses testified in a Senate subcommittee hearing Tuesday.

The witnesses told the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy that they believe a massive cyberattack is imminent unless the U.S. ratchets up its efforts to protect against and deter offensives from countries such as Russia, China, and North Korea.