House Launches New Year with a Bundle of Tech Bills


U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)

The U.S. House of Representatives wasted little time in the new year in passing a range of science, cybersecurity and entrepreneurship-related bills, including one that stands to boost revenues at sharing economy companies like Uber and Lyft.

Just one week after the 115th Congress convened, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) put over a half dozen technology and telecommunications bills on the chamber’s daily agenda.

The measures are all part of the Innovation Initiative begun by McCarthy last year to help modernize government and remove federal obstacles to innovation. During the last Congress, they passed the House but stalled in the Senate. Lawmakers hope that getting an early start in this Congress gives the bills a better chance of passing into law.

“I’m delighted that we’re moving early in this session,” Rep. Elizabeth Etsy (D-Conn.) said during floor remarks in favor of the Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers (INSPIRE) Women Act, one of the tech-related bills passed by the House Jan. 10. INSPIRE would direct NASA to encourage women and girls to pursue careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, fields.

Among the other recently passed bills are the Modernizing Government Travel Act, which would codify that government employees be reimbursed for travel with “innovative mobility technology” companies, like Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. Other bills are aimed at national security.

The Support for Rapid Innovation Act would help industry and academia partner for cybersecurity technology research. The Leveraging Emerging Technologies Act would encourage the Department of Homeland Security to work with technology-based small businesses and startups on cybersecurity defense innovations and would let it open offices in U.S. tech hubs to aid the collaborations.

Another bill, like INSPIRE, is aimed at bringing more women into tech, something the industry has grappled with.

The Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act would increase support from the National Science Foundation for female small business owners in the STEM fields.