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The face of the artificial intelligence fever sweeping the US — OpenAI CEO Sam Altman — gripped Washington this May when he pleaded under oath for the first time for Congress to regulate the technology. Yet behind the scenes on Capitol Hill, an unexpected crew knew that plea was coming and started to assemble.
The bipartisan group of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sens. Todd Young (R-Ind.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) have been meeting almost weekly since Altman’s testimony, racing to formulate rules that protect Americans from AI’s worst threats, such as biological weapons and mass unemployment, but also promote the technology’s potential to cure diseases and curb hunger.
Adding to that challenge: Such legislation would need to pass a deeply divided Congress facing a packed agenda, a largely unsuccessful history of regulating technology, and an upcoming election heightening partisan politics. Still, in interviews with the senators, former staffers, and close observers, optimism is running high that the rare but mighty alliance can pull off the extraordinarily complex task of confronting AI.
Each senator brings legislative prowess to the table: Schumer is building on recent bipartisan dealmaking, Young spearheaded negotiations on last year’s successful CHIPS and Science Act, Rounds’ national security knowledge can address AI’s risks, and Heinrich back in 2019 founded the Senate’s AI caucus that championed several initial measures. Read Oma Seddiq’s full deep dive on the Senate’s AI supergroup.
- President Joe Biden departs the White House shortly before 5 p.m. to travel to the G-20 Summit in New Delhi, India.
- Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan will gaggle aboard Air Force One.
- The Senate meets at 10 a.m. to vote on Biden’s nominees to the Federal Reserve and FCC.
Happening on Capitol Hill
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) brushed aside concerns about his health Wednesday and said he would continue as party leader through the 2024 elections.
Congress likely will need a short-term extension of authorization for federal aviation programs as disagreements persist in negotiations, the bipartisan heads of the Senate panel overseeing aviation said Wednesday.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) blasted the volatile economic policies of China’s ruling Communist Party, and called on the US to reduce its reliance on the world’s second-largest economy.
The Senate confirmed the second Black American to serve as the Federal Reserve’s vice chair in its 109-year history, and further boosted the institution’s diversity by confirming its first Black female governor for a full 14-year term.
Celeste Maloy, ex-legal counsel to Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah), was the top vote-getter in the Republican primary to fill the seat that will become vacant when he resigns Sept. 15 because of his wife’s ill health. Utah’s 2nd District is so GOP-dominated that she is all but assured of being Stewart’s successor.
People, Power, and Politics
A proposal to put Donald Trump and 18 co-defendants on trial as soon as Oct. 23 for allegedly trying to overturn the result of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia was deemed “unrealistic” by a judge, signaling a potential setback for the state’s plan to expedite the case.
Conservative law professor John Eastman on Wednesday disputed testimony from White House aides and counsel that he and Trump were warned they were on shaky legal ground when they suggested the vice president could reject electors votes in the 2020 presidential election.
A prosecutor will seek to indict Biden’s son Hunter before the end of September, catapulting the case back into the public spotlight as the president ramps up his reelection bid.
Google will soon require that all election advertisers disclose when their messages have been altered or created by AI tools.
What Else We’re Watching
Biden aims to seize on the absence of two key adversaries at this week’s G-20 leaders meeting to make fresh inroads with countries that China and Russia have previously courted.
India Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants rich nations to take a more constructive attitude on helping developing countries battling with climate change, saying it must come with action on financing and technology transfers.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged an additional $1 billion in security and humanitarian funds for Ukraine on Wednesday, presenting a package that includes millions in assets seized from sanctioned Russian oligarchs.
Biden’s Asia czar, Kurt Campbell, is the leading candidate to be nominated as the next deputy secretary of State, according to people familiar with the matter.
Biden’s choice of Jacob Lew to serve as his envoy to Israel puts a seasoned official at the center of US efforts to soothe ties with a key ally and press for a normalization deal with Saudi Arabia.
A federal judge ordered Texas to remove a controversial floating barrier in the Rio Grande while the Biden administration pursues its lawsuit seeking a permanent ban on buoys the state installed to help prevent illegal crossings from Mexico.
The government is offering settlements of up to $450,000 to compensate Camp Lejeune veterans and others who say they were sickened by toxic water on the North Carolina Marine base, in a bid to quickly resolve what could be hundreds of thousands of claims.
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