This year, Congress is steadily progressing towards enacting meaningful legislation on artificial intelligence (AI) for the first time. At the end of 2023, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and his “Gang of Four” (Senators Todd Young (R-IN), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and Mike Rounds (R-SD)) concluded their AI Insight Forums, a series of sessions where lawmakers discussed AI technology with industry leaders. Leader Schumer announced that senators are now beginning to work on AI legislation. He has reportedly empowered various Senate committee chairs to introduce legislation on topics within their jurisdiction related to AI and to begin the process of shaping those bills through their respective committees. For instance, it was reported by FedScoop that Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA) is preparing to introduce a series of bills addressing AI issues, including deepfakes, jobs and training, algorithmic bias, digital privacy, national security, and innovation and competitiveness in the coming weeks and months. The initial focus of legislation may revolve around the clearest dangers posed by AI, including deepfakes and national security. Additionally, there is a growing interest in Congress regarding AI’s impact on elections, considering 2024 is an election year.
While the Senate initially led AI-related activity on Capitol Hill, the House of Representatives is now actively playing a more prominent role in the process. Last year, House committees held numerous hearings on the subject, led by House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA). Chair Rodgers is particularly focused on the intersection between data privacy and AI. She is reportedly working to update the bicameral, bipartisan consumer data privacy bill from the 117th Congress, the American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA). This year, the House Committee on Financial Services announced the formation of an AI working group to examine how AI is affecting the financial services and housing sectors, led by Reps. French Hill (R-AR) and Stephen Lynch (D-MA). Additionally, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) has expressed his interest in AI, and he met with OpenAI CEO Sam Altman last week to discuss opportunities and risks posed by AI. “The Speaker believes that Congress should encourage innovation, help maintain our competitive edge, and stay mindful of potential risks,” according to his office. It is likely the Speaker will increasingly exercise his new role to dictate House Republicans’ position on AI policy.
Overall, numerous bills have been introduced already this year, and committees have begun the year with AI-related hearings – with more to come. Meanwhile, the Biden Administration is in the process of carrying out the various mandates in President Biden’s Executive Order on AI.