This Week in Washington: Digitized Payment Systems, Operation Warp Speed and Changing American Tech
June 29, 2020
This week in our nation’s capital, the Senate Banking Committee holds a hearing on introducing decentralized ledger technologies into government payment systems while the Senate Labor Subcommittee looks at Operation Warp Speed’s progress on developing a COVID-19 vaccine. Over in the House of Representatives, the House Rules Committee will look at amendments to the INVEST in America Act, a major transportation infrastructure bill which earmarks federal funding for mobility innovation programs. Elsewhere, New America looks at the impact that the year 2020 will have on the world of big tech while the Center for Strategic & International Studies discusses Main Street innovation in the defense sector with the company president of General Atomics, maker of the MQ-9 Reaper.
Monday, June 29
House Committee on RulesH.R. 2, INVEST in America Act
At 1:00 PM on Monday, online video webinar.
On June 18, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America Act, moving the $494 billion infrastructure bill closer to a vote on the House floor. The massive legislative draft, clocking in at over 2,300 pages, includes federal funding for research programs including a mobility innovation sandbox program, a transit bus operator compartment redesign program and a national advanced technology transit bus development program.
Tuesday, June 30
Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban AffairsThe Digitization of Money and Payments
At 10:00 AM on Tuesday, online video webinar.
The use of distributed ledger technologies allowing for the digitization of payment systems in which money is tokenized for use as a digital financial instrument has been viewed with a lot of promise in certain policy sectors despite, or perhaps because of, the decentralized nature of the technology. Advance coverage of this hearing of the Senate Banking Committee indicates that it will follow up on themes emerging from a House FinTech Task Force meeting from mid-June which explored the use of such digital payment systems in government settings. The witness panel for this hearing will include the Honorable J. Christopher Giancarlo, Senior Counsel, Wilkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, and former Chairman, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission; Charles Cascarilla, CEO and Co-Founder, Paxos; and Nikita Q. Cuttino, Visiting Assistant Professor of Law, Duke University School of Law.
New AmericaWill 2020 Change American Tech?
At 4:00 PM on Tuesday, online video webinar.
The first half of 2020 has featured many events that have benefitted the tech industry, including the COVID-19 pandemic which has forced much of daily life to Internet channels, while privacy and antitrust concerns have caused difficulties for many companies in that sector. This event will explore potential regulatory hurdles and legal reforms big tech companies may have to face this year as well as the development of an American model of tech regulation contrasting with regulatory models from Europe and China. Speakers at this event will include Anne-Marie Slaughter, CEO, New America, and Author, The Chessboard and the Web: Strategies of Connection in a Networked World; and Reid Hoffman, Co-Founder, LinkedIn, Partner, Greylock Partners, and Board Member, New America.
Wednesday, July 1
The Wilson CenterThe Outlook for Renewable Energy in Mexico at a Time of Crisis
At 1:00 PM on Wednesday, online video webinar.
This event, part of the Wilson Center’s “Clean Energy in Mexico” webinar series, will explore mid-term goals for Mexico’s power market including issues related to storage solutions for renewable energy and grid stability in wind and solar energy systems. The event will feature a presentation by Julio Valle, Director, Asociación Mexicana de Energía Eólica, and Spokesperson, Asociación Mexicana de Energía Solar. An audience Q&A will follow the presentation.
Center for Strategic & International StudiesMain Street Defense Series – Bringing Innovation and Adaptability to the Fight with General Atomics’ David Alexander
At 1:00 PM on Wednesday, online video webinar.
The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) used by the U.S. Air Force in military situations for its hunter-killer capabilities. In early June, the Air Force issued a request for information on a potential next-generation UAV replacement for the MQ-9 Reaper to be ready for use in the field by 2031. This event, part of the Center for Strategic & International Studies’ Main Street Defense Series exploring issues related to Main Street companies in the defense sector, features a discussion with David Alexander, President, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.; and Andrew Philip Hunter, Director, Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group, and Senior Fellow, International Security Program.
Thursday, July 2
Senate Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related AgenciesReview of Operation Warp Speed: Researching, Manufacturing, & Distributing a Safe & Effective Coronavirus Vaccine
At 10:00 AM on Thursday in 106 Dirksen Senate Office Building.
Operation Warp Speed is a collaborative effort among many government agencies including the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to facilitate the development of a vaccine for COVID-19 and to provide 300 million doses of that vaccine by January 2021. Critics of the plan have argued that the program is underfunded and could cause health risks if a vaccine is rushed through development too quickly before understanding potential adverse effects. The witness panel for this event will include the Honorable Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D, Director, National Institutes of Health; Robert R. Redfield, M.D., Director, CDC; and Gary Disbrow, Ph.D, Acting Director, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, and Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, HHS.