Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Senators Todd Young (R-IN), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) recently introduced the Future of AI Innovation Act, a legislative package that addresses key bipartisan priorities to promote AI safety, standardization, and access.  The bill would also advance U.S. leadership in AI by facilitating R&D and creating testbeds for AI systems.

First, the bill would codify the AI Safety Institute at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a body established last year by the Commerce Department to develop voluntary safety standards for AI use and establish a framework for educating businesses and the public about the technology.  By funding new research; encouraging collaboration among NIST, the Department of Energy (DOE), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and public-private partnerships; and directing the development and adoption of “technology-neutral voluntary standards,” the bill would promote stakeholder involvement in the development of best practices for AI.

Another way the bill would advance AI innovation and safety is by establishing public testbeds through NIST.  These testbeds would allow government agencies, including DOE and NSF, as well as the private sector to collaborate on AI research and safety testing.  The bill would further authorize a joint NIST-DOE testbed to develop new materials for advanced manufacturing involving AI, including AI integrated with technologies such as quantum computing.

Furthermore, the bill would take steps toward making AI training and evaluation data publicly available by directing the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and other agencies to prioritize which government datasets to release and to fund the further development and improvement of such datasets.  This provision aims to accelerate AI R&D among small- and medium-scale developers by expanding access to AI training resources.

Finally, the bill seeks to facilitate AI R&D in the United States, including in collaboration with allies.  The bill would create funding incentives, including prize competitions, for private researchers and engineers to develop innovative AI applications and integrate AI with other critical and emerging technologies.  The bill would also promote international cooperation among U.S. allies on AI R&D and standards development to support interoperability and security across AI platforms, as recommended by the National Standards Strategy for Critical and Emerging Technology.

Notably, the Future of AI Innovation Act focuses on innovation, not regulation, in AI.  However, the bill is sponsored by a bipartisan team that includes a powerful committee chair and a Republican member of Leader Schumer’s AI task force.  Although the bill is the latest AI proposal in a Congress that has already held dozens of hearings and introduced countless bills on a range of AI-related topics, it is one of only a handful to focus on private AI innovation rather than regulation or federal government AI use. 

While it is clear that lawmakers remain interested in passing major AI legislation by year’s end, it is less certain whether members of Congress will align on the details of significant AI legislation in the waning months of this term.

Print:
Email this postTweet this postLike this postShare this post on LinkedIn
Photo of Holly Fechner Holly Fechner

Holly Fechner advises clients on complex public policy matters that combine legal and political opportunities and risks. She leads teams that represent companies, entities, and organizations in significant policy and regulatory matters before Congress and the Executive Branch.

She is a co-chair of…

Holly Fechner advises clients on complex public policy matters that combine legal and political opportunities and risks. She leads teams that represent companies, entities, and organizations in significant policy and regulatory matters before Congress and the Executive Branch.

She is a co-chair of the Covington’s Technology Industry Group and a member of the Covington Political Action Committee board of directors.

Holly works with clients to:

  • Develop compelling public policy strategies
  • Research law and draft legislation and policy
  • Draft testimony, comments, fact sheets, letters and other documents
  • Advocate before Congress and the Executive Branch
  • Form and manage coalitions
  • Develop communications strategies

She is the Executive Director of Invent Together and a visiting lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She serves on the board of directors of the American Constitution Society.

Holly served as Policy Director for Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) and Chief Labor and Pensions Counsel for the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee.

She received The American Lawyer, “Dealmaker of the Year” award. in 2019. The Hill named her a “Top Lobbyist” from 2013 to the present, and she has been ranked by Chambers USA – America’s Leading Business Lawyers from 2012 to the present.

Photo of Matthew Shapanka Matthew Shapanka

Matthew Shapanka draws on more than 15 years of experience from Capitol Hill, private practice, state government, and political campaigns to counsel clients significant legislative, regulatory, and enforcement matters. He develops and executes complex, multifaceted public policy initiatives for clients seeking actions by…

Matthew Shapanka draws on more than 15 years of experience from Capitol Hill, private practice, state government, and political campaigns to counsel clients significant legislative, regulatory, and enforcement matters. He develops and executes complex, multifaceted public policy initiatives for clients seeking actions by Congress, state legislatures, and federal and state government agencies, many with significant legal and political opportunities and risks. Matt also leads the firm’s state policy practice, advising clients on complex multistate legislative and regulatory policy matters and managing state advocacy efforts.

Matt rejoined Covington after serving as Chief Counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, where he advised Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) on all legal, policy, and oversight matters before the Committee, including federal election and campaign finance law, Federal Election Commission nominations, and oversight of legislative branch agencies, U.S. Capitol security, and Senate rules and regulations. Most significantly, Matt led the Committee’s staff work on the Electoral Count Reform Act – a landmark bipartisan law enacted in 2022 to update the procedures for certifying and counting votes in presidential elections —and the Committee’s joint (with the Homeland Security Committee) bipartisan investigation into the security planning and response to the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.

Both in Congress and at Covington, Matt has prepared dozens of corporate and nonprofit executives, academics, government officials, and presidential nominees for testimony at congressional committee hearings and depositions. He is also an experienced legislative drafter who has composed dozens of bills introduced in Congress and state legislatures, including several that have been enacted into law across multiple policy areas.

In addition to his policy work, Matt advises and represents clients on the full range of political law compliance and enforcement matters involving federal election, campaign finance, lobbying, and government ethics laws, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s “Pay-to-Play” rule, and the election and political laws of states and municipalities across the country.

Before law school, Matt worked in the administration of former Governor Deval Patrick (D-MA) as a research analyst in the Massachusetts Recovery & Reinvestment Office, where he worked on policy, communications, and compliance matters for federal economic recovery funding awarded to the state. He has also worked for federal, state, and local political candidates in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Samuel Klein

Samuel Klein helps clients realize their policy objectives, manage reputational risks, and navigate the regulatory environment governing political engagement.

As a member of Covington’s Election and Political Law practice, Sam assists clients facing Congressional investigations and offers guidance on ethics laws; with the…

Samuel Klein helps clients realize their policy objectives, manage reputational risks, and navigate the regulatory environment governing political engagement.

As a member of Covington’s Election and Political Law practice, Sam assists clients facing Congressional investigations and offers guidance on ethics laws; with the firm’s Public Policy group, Sam supports strategic advocacy across a breadth of policy domains at the federal, state, and local levels.

Sam spent one year as a law clerk at the Federal Election Commission. His prior experience includes serving as an intern to two senior members of Congress and helping clients communicate nuanced policy concepts to lawmakers and stakeholders as a public-affairs consultant.