Like many of our members, the NRB has closely monitored the 2022 midterm elections with an eye toward representing your interests to the 118th U.S. Congress.
As of this writing, numerous key races are yet to be called. Republicans are likely to gain the majority in the House of Representatives, although not by the broad margins many expected, while decisive Senate seats are still in play.
In the event of a Republican House majority, expect major actions on Section 230, data privacy, and antitrust enforcement. Earlier this fall, House Republicans unveiled their “Commitment to America” agenda, previewing what Republicans intend to accomplish with a House majority. Under the banner of “Confront Big Tech and Advance Free Speech,” Republican lawmakers pledge to hold Big Tech accountable by scrapping Section 230 protections for the largest tech companies and starting over with rules that promote free speech, protecting Americans’ privacy and data security, targeting anti-competitive market behaviors through stronger antitrust enforcement, and equipping parents with the tools necessary to keep children safe online.
The NRB government relations team will be working steadily until the January swearing-in to welcome incoming members of Congress, introduce new lawmakers to NRB, identify shared priorities, and map out our advocacy agenda for the next legislative session. NRB will be keeping a close eye on committee appointments, especially the House Energy and Commerce Committee, chaired currently by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and ranking member Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, led in the current session by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.). Expect more news on committee appointments next week, as both chambers are in session and new members will begin orientation the week of November 14-18.
One lawmaker for NRB members to watch: Rep. McMorris Rodgers, a likely choice for chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in a Republican majority. In 2021, McMorris Rodgers unveiled her “Big Tech Accountability Platform,” which recommended “a legislative vehicle to sunset or establish a reauthorization date for Section 230.” Energy and Commerce Republicans proposed a robust package of draft legislation that would include key Section 230 reforms guided by the Big Tech Accountability Platform. Earlier this year, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr commended the Big Tech Accountability framework in testimony before the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology of the Energy and Commerce Committee. With the Supreme Court also weighing Section 230 this term, the vast protections currently immunizing tech companies may have an embattled future on the horizon.
NRB will also monitor the closing days of the current legislative period in anticipation of an enormously busy lame duck session in the Senate. Controversial nominations including Biden FCC pick Gigi Sohn and federal judicial nominee Nancy Abudu are still languishing, but fast-track confirmations late in the game are still possible. Democrats have already promised formal consideration of the so-called “Respect for Marriage Act,” codifying same-sex marriage into law and impacting religious exercise and freedom of conscience, following midterm elections. Finally, watch for a wide-ranging, must-pass omnibus appropriations package and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to cover a massive scope of issues.
NRB seeks to act as eyes, ears, and a voice for our membership and provide information about opportunities to communicate the perspective of our industry expediently and effectively. We look forward to direct lawmaker engagement and strategic growth in NRB’s public policy operations in the upcoming legislative session—and we welcome communications from members about your advocacy interests, priorities, and concerns.