What to Know in Washington: AI Deepfakes Spark Election Fears

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Lawmakers are running short on time and consensus to tackle the rise of deepfakes that threaten to manipulate the 2024 elections.

The increased use of AI by campaigns has far surpassed how Congress, political parties, and federal regulators are addressing the technology. Without limits on deepfakes, fears that disinformation could shape the 2024 elections are expected to worsen as political ad spending ramps up and outpaces past election cycles.

Photographer: Olivier Douliery/AFP via via Getty Images
This illustration photo taken on Jan. 30, 2023 shows a phone screen displaying a statement from the head of security policy at Meta with a fake video (R) of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky calling on his soldiers to lay down their weapons shown in the background.

“We are democratizing disinformation by allowing ordinary people to communicate in ways that could be completely fake,” said Darrell West, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Technology Innovation. “I expect that will be the Wild West of the 2024 election. There’s just going to be crazy content everywhere.”

Congress is still struggling to grasp the rapidly evolving technology. According to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, lawmakers are at least months away from introducing comprehensive legislation to mitigate AI’s most serious threats.

The easiest and quickest option for Congress would be to require labeling on political advertisements that use AI, according to Matthew Ferraro, an attorney at WilmerHale. Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Michael Bennet (Colo.), and Cory Booker (N.J.), in May introduced a bill that would do just that (S. 1596). Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) has introduced companion legislation in the House (H.R. 3044).

While labeling is an important first step, Klobuchar said, Congress must go further.

“Some of it is going to have to be outright banned, or it’s going to completely fool our constituents on both sides of the aisle,” Klobuchar said at a Senate Democratic press conference on AI last week. She said she’s hoping to craft a bipartisan bill addressing AI in elections that would fit into a larger AI package, which Congress is working out. Read the full story by Oma Seddiq and Amelia Davidson for more AI moves from Congress, advocacy groups, and state legislatures.


  • The House is back at 9 a.m. to take up final passage of FAA reauthorization.
  • Senators convene at 10 a.m. for votes on an EPA nominee and defense policy bill amendment.


  • President Joe Biden travels to Philadelphia for a tour of Philly Shipyard shortly after noon.
  • Around 1 p.m., Biden will speak about his Bidenomics agenda and will arrive back at the White House around 3:30 p.m.
  • Principal Deputy Press Secretary Olivia Dalton will gaggle aboard Air Force One en route to Philadelphia.

More Happening on the Hill

House Votes to Remove Changes to Pilot Training From FAA Bill

The House voted to strip from sweeping aviation legislation a contentious proposal that would have counted more hours in a simulator toward pilot training requirements.

  • House lawmakers also voted down a proposal that would have added more long-distance flights at Reagan National Airport, creating a significant hurdle to its path toward law. Read more.

BGOV OnPoint: Defense Policy Bill Clears First Senate Hurdle

Senators advanced their fiscal 2024 defense authorization bill with the first procedural vote on July 18, setting up debate on amendments before final passage.

Senate Votes to Prevent President from Leaving NATO

The Senate approved a provision sponsored by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) that would prevent any president from withdrawing from NATO without Senate approval or an act of Congress.

  • Senators also defeated a provision that sought to change the way the Pentagon calculates the cost of sending weapons from US stockpiles abroad. Read more.

House Republicans Targeting Mayorkas Outline Plan of Attack

House Republicans are accusing Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas of violating a host of immigration laws, escalating charges as many GOP members push for his impeachment.

Tighter Biden Emissions Standards Threatened

Republican amendments to ban the Biden administration’s stricter emissions standards on power plants and vehicles advanced as part of House appropriators’ legislation to fund interior and environment projects.

SEC Hears Climate Rule Concerns ‘Loud and Clear’

The SEC is well aware corporate greenhouse gas emissions reporting requirements that the agency proposed in its climate rule have worried small farmers and others, agency Chair Gary Gensler told senators Wednesday.

  • Gensler also reiterated his promise to crack down on the “the Wild West” cryptocurrency industry and warned lawmakers against cutting his budget. Read more.

Politics, Power, and 2024

Half of Voters Open to Third Party, Worrisome Sign For Biden

Almost half of US voters — 47% — say they would consider voting for a third-party candidate for president next year, signaling a dissatisfaction with a potential rematch between Biden and t Donald Trump.

Christie Says He Would Not Repeal SALT Cap

Chris Christie committed to keeping in place a cap on state and local tax deductions if he is elected president, declining to roll back a policy that has become a flashpoint for taxpayers in New York and New Jersey.

  • Christie said that Trump faced significant legal peril from accusations that he mishandled classified documents. Read more.
  • Christie also added that he would consider keeping Fed Chair Jerome Powell even though he could’ve acted sooner to raise interest rates to slow inflation. Read more.

Summer of Strikes: American Firms Face Worker Walkouts

More than 650,000 American workers are threatening to go on strike this summer — or have already done so — in an avalanche of union activity not seen in the US in decades.

Mayors Join Coalition to Combat Urban Heat, Other Climate Risks

The mayors of Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, New Orleans, and Columbia, South Carolina will launch a national multiyear project today to help combat rising temperatures and flooding that pose dire threats to low-income and minority communities.

  • As a brutal heat wave covers much of the US in record temperatures, labor groups are pushing for measures to protect outdoor workers by mandating water breaks and periods out of the blazing sun. Read more.

Eyes on The Biden Administration

Biden Wants to Run on the Economy, Not Away From It

White House officials started to panic about a month ago that Americans were not giving Biden credit for his economic achievements. So they decided to rebrand, adopting the term “Bidenomics” as a way to repackage existing policies for a public that feels lukewarm about the president.

Dollars Are Flowing, But Money Alone Can’t Fix Infrastructure

Biden’s urge to claim political dividends from public works projects is running headlong into a local group’s efforts to rebuild lost neighborhoods in Ohio.

Biden Targets Food Prices, Housing in Latest ‘Junk Fees’ Action

The president is announcing three new federal actions, including updated guidance on antitrust enforcement, as part of his administration’s push to lower costs for Americans.

China to Respond If the US Puts Limits on Investment

China’s government will retaliate if the Biden administration imposes new limits on technology and capital that can flow to the nation, Beijing’s envoy in Washington said.

What Else We’re Reading

Republican AGs Have Tough Legal Road Against Corporate Diversity

A warning from Republican attorneys general that Fortune 100 companies face “serious legal consequences” for their diversity initiatives is more likely to dissuade employers from continuing them out of fear of litigation, rather than actually invite a slew of lawsuits.

Black Colleges With Boosted Ratings to See Borrowing Costs Drop

A surge in enrollment and donations at Historically Black colleges and universities is leading to credit upgrades, potentially reducing borrowing costs from a bond market that has long discriminated against the schools.

NCAA Athletes Left Exposed as Efforts to Tighten NIL Rules Stall

Lawmakers in some states have enacted measures designed to educate student athletes or require agents to be licensed. Yet other state bills have hit roadblocks. And bills in Congress have yet to gain traction. Skeptics say it’s too much to expect the NCAA to regulate the fast-moving landscape.

To contact the reporters on this story: Giuseppe Macri in Washington at gmacri@bgov.com; Brandon Lee in Washington at blee@bgov.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kayla Sharpe at ksharpe@bloombergindustry.com

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