Create or retrieve your password by clicking here

Advocacy Update | Wednesday, Dec. 16

December 16, 2020

Transition News

  • Visit Elevate’s Transition 2020 Hub to see the most up-to-date lists of rumored and announced Cabinet members and staff.
  • President-elect Biden is expected to select Brenda Mallory to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
    • Mallory is currently the Director of Regulatory Policy at the Southern Environmental Law Center and previously served as General Counsel to the Council on Environmental Quality during the Obama Administration.
  • Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) continues to be discussed as a frontrunner to be President-elect Biden’s choice for Secretary of the Interior. Amid reports that Democratic leadership in the House was concerned about another Member leaving the House for the Administration, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) stated her support of Rep. Haaland.
    • As a reminder, House Democrats will have a very slim majority in the 117th Congress and any departures would have to be filled in a special election and would at least temporarily further strengthen House Republicans’ position to influence the legislative process. Rep. Haaland won her reelection by 17 points.
  • Published reports indicate that President-elect Biden has narrowed his choice for Attorney General down to Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) and Judge Merrick Garland.
    • Sen. Jones, who lost his re-election bid to Tommy Tuberville, previously served as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama under President Clinton.
    • Judge Garland currently serves as a Circuit Court Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. As a reminder, he was also nominated to the Supreme Court by President Obama in 2016 but his nomination did not receive a vote.
  • Congressional leaders are reportedly nearing agreement on a COVID-19 relief package with a rough topline around $900B. Though details are not yet available publicly, reports indicate that the package could include the following, among other things, in addition to provisions that were included in the bipartisan language introduced earlier this week:
    • $600-$700 in direct stimulus to most Americans.
    • $300 in weekly unemployment insurance through March.
    • $325B in small business relief, including $257B in additional funds for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized its first rapid at-home COVID-19 saliva-based test that can yield immediate results. The emergency use authorization allows for this test, which is a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test rather than an antigen test, to be used by anyone older than two years old.
    • Previous at-home kits still required samples to be sent to a lab but this test, from Australian company Ellume, will be inexpensive and allow for results to be received at home.
    • Initial batches will be shipped in the first week of January, but supply may be limited early on.



  • Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) yesterday introduced legislation (S. 5020) that would repeal liability protections for tech companies under Section 230 on January 1, 2023 in an effort to incentivize Congress to reform Section 230 more quickly. Text of the legislation is not yet available publicly, but Chairman Graham has been a strong supporter of Section 230 reform throughout this year.
  • The Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Policy held a hearing on “US-China: Winning the Economic Competition, Part II.” The hearing discussed how the U.S. can effectively compete with China with a focus on technology, trade, the American workforce, and multilateralism. Specific issues addressed included domestic investment, export controls, espionage, TikTok and WeChat, critical minerals, and immigration. Our coverage of the hearing is attached. Witnesses included:
    • The Honorable Will Hurd, Member (R-TX), United States House of Representatives
    • Derek Scissors, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute
    • Melanie M. Hart, Ph.D., Senior Fellow and Director for China Policy, Center for American Progress
    • Roy Houseman, Legislative Director, United Steelworkers (USW)
  • Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced the Every Child Connected Act (S. 5021) to close the Homework Gap between students through the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) E-Rate program.
    • According to a press release, the bill would direct funds from the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) data privacy violations to the E-Rate program. The definition of classroom would also be expanded to include distance learning.
  • Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and the Coalition to End Forced Labour in the Uyghur Region sent a letter to major apparel band tech companies asking the companies to describe their opposition to the Uighur Forced Labor Act and lobbying they have done against the bill.
    • The Uighur Forced Labor Act, which was introduced by Rep. McGovern, passed the House by a 406-3 vote in September but has not been considered by the Senate. Rep. McGovern said that he will not accept any changes to the bill.
  • White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany again confirmed President Trump’s plan to veto the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which passed Congress and was sent to the White House on Friday. It is unclear when that is expected to happen but once it does, Congress would have to act quickly to vote to override the veto. If Congress fails to override the veto by January 2, it will have to be reintroduced and go through the committee process and passage by each chamber of Congress again. This would also break the current 59-year streak of passing the NDAA.
  • The Department of Energy (DOE) released two final rules to facilitate “quality of life” improvements. The first rule extended efficiency standards to devices with multiple showerheads, allowing for higher pressure showers. The second rule creates a new product class of washers and dryers that use more water and power for shorter cycles.
  • The Federal Reserve officially joined the Network for Greening the Financial System, which is a group of international banks and financial regulators working to combat climate change through the financial system. The Federal Reserve is the first federal agency to join the Network.
  • The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) released a final rule which requires states to create highway-rail grade crossing action plans to increase public safety. States that already have plans in place will have to update their plans and provide progress reports.
  • Amtrak’s inspector general announced that the positive train control system will be interoperable with host and tenant railroads by the end of the year. However, manual data compilation poses challenges to measuring system reliability and operations. Amtrak has been unable to adopt electronic data compilation methods due to lack of funding.
  • Carolyn Roddy is the new Acting Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), after former Acting Administrator Adam Candeub moved to the Department of Justice.
    • Roddy previously worked under Candeub to facilitate Section 230 rulemaking at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
    Other News
  • The Supreme Court announced that it will hear an antitrust case that challenges the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) restrictions on college athlete compensation. If the NCAA is found to be in violation of antitrust law, it would lose its ability to determine the education-related benefits that schools can offer to student athletes.
  • Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that his office is suing Google on antitrust concerns related to the advertising technology market. As a reminder, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is also pursuing a separate antitrust case against Google which we reported on previously.
  • The Progressive Policy Institute released a memo on clean energy urging the Biden Administration to include methane reductions in the goal to reach net-zero emissions by 2035. The memo encouraged President-elect Biden to incorporate natural gas in his decarbonization goals, specifically through carbon capture and storage and methane regulation.
  • The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy released its 2020 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. The report found that energy efficiency efforts were delayed by COVID-19 in some states and remained a priority in other states.
    • California was ranked as the top state for energy efficiency due to building decarbonization, vehicle emission standards, and appliance standards. Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, and New York followed in the ranking.
  • The Alliance for Automotive Innovation released an Auto Innovation Agenda which provided recommendations to facilitate technological advancements. Recommendations included improvements to the supply chain, workforce training, and technological deployment in rural communities.
  • The Alliance for Trade Enforcement sent a memo to the Biden transition team with recommendations for President-elect Biden’s first 100 days trade agenda. Recommendations included:
    • Increased trade enforcement, specifically for Canada, Japan, and South Korea.
    • Protection of intellectual property rights.
    • Continuation of the Section 301 investigation into digital services taxes.
    • Reevaluation of South Africa and India under the General System of Preferences (GSP).
  • The European Union (EU) released the Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act, which both aim to increase digital competition and protect consumers online. Violators of these laws could face billions of dollars in fines or potentially have their companies broken up.
    • The Digital Markets Act will create a new category for any company that controls access to an online platform, has at least 45M users, generates a revenue of over €6.5B, and operates in at least three EU states. These companies include Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft. This category will be more strictly regulated to ensure competition.
    • The Digital Services Act will require large online platforms to expand access to their internal data for regulators and third parties and appoint independent auditors to monitor compliance.
  • The United Kingdom’s (UK) Supreme Court today overturned a February ruling that barred London’s Heathrow Airport from building a third runway. The new decision allows the airport to seek planning permission for the runway, but it remains unclear whether the government will grant the permission due to the UK’s emission reduction goals.
« »