Google CEO Sundar Pichai confronted a barrage of criticism Tuesday from House Republicans who said his company suppresses conservative voices, exposing Google to the same kind of scrutiny that has destabilized its tech peers this year. Pichai insisted that Google is careful to avoid political bias in its search engine and other products.
For months, Pentagon officials have been rushing to prepare plans for an independent Space Force, a sixth branch of the military ordered up by President Trump. But since Oct. 26, they have been marching to new White House orders: go back and look at different ways to reorganize the military’s space operations.
NASA’s planetary science program has enjoyed significant support over the last several years. After post-sequestration cuts trimmed the program’s budget to less than $1.3 billion in 2013, it’s grown significantly in subsequent years, exceeding $2.2 billion in 2018. The House version of a fiscal year 2019 spending bill, approved by appropriators in May but yet to be considered by the full House, proposed nearly $2.76 billion for the program.
Former Central Intelligence Agency officers Abigail Spanberger and Elissa Slotkin won their House races last week and will be representing Virginia and Michigan respectively. They’re coming to Washington at a time when Congress is expected to address a wide range of cybersecurity issues -- including securing election systems and supply chains.
In addition to beefing up oversight of regulators they believe have been too lax on the tech and telecom industry, Democrats are also making it a top priority to craft internet privacy rules. There has been increasing bipartisan support for a national privacy law in recent months following a string of massive data scandals and breaches at major companies.
The Democratic party will assume majority control of the House of Representatives next January. As a result, the management of all committees in the House will belong to Democrats, who can pursue issues and topics of their choosing. Republicans, consigned to the minority for the first time in 8 years, will have little influence over committee leadership.
Ranking member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) issued a statement after the election results Tuesday night stating that, if elected chairwoman, she wants to restore the credibility of the science committee “as a place where science is respected and recognized as a crucial input to good policymaking.” Johnson said that includes acknowledging that climate change is real, “seeking to understand what climate science is telling us, and working to understand the ways we can mitigate it.”
Tuesday’s elections resulted in a Democratic majority in the House, but the changes for the next Congress go far beyond this outcome. Flipping party control means new chairs for every committee in the House; many Senate Republicans in leadership positions are reaching their party’s term limits, yielding new committee seniority; and, retirements and incumbent losses yield further changes.
The faces of Capitol Hill are changing. When the 116th Congress heads to Washington in January, there will be a record number of women in the ranks -- at least 123, according to the news website Axios, including the first Muslim women, the first Somali-American, and the first Native American women. There will be more scientists too.
Recently, I was honored to be invited by Dr. Robert Boege, Executive Director of ASTRA to join ASTRA’s Futurist Dr. Ronnie Lowenstein, and serve as a NetGeneration of Youth Cyberjournalist covering a Congressional Briefing held in the Rayburn House Office Building on October 11, 2018 entitled, “Ending Opiod Use: A New Hope”. The event was co-sponsored by ASTRA, The World Association for Laser Therapy, NetGeneration of Youth, The Optical Society of America, and thirteen other science and medical organizations. What an opportunity to learn about PBM, “photobiomodulation,” an innovative medical technology, as well as, to be exposed to the organizational stakeholders who advocate for support of America’s ‘science and technology innovation ecosystem.’