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Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Top Republicans clash over data privacy bill as committee markup looms

A heated and highly unusual turf war has broken out between the House Republican leadership and Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) over her bipartisan data privacy bill, which is scheduled for a markup today.

Speaker Mike Johnson and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise held a call with Energy and Commerce Republicans over the American Privacy Rights Act Wednesday night. CMR wasn’t part of that call. This is an extraordinary step to take place the night before a committee markup.

The data privacy package — a bipartisan agreement with Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) that CMR considers a signature piece of legislation during her final year in Congress — is facing some serious headwinds. Members of her committee are wary of the bill. While privacy advocates and conservatives like the proposal, GOP leaders are very skeptical that it can pass either in committee or on the House floor.

The Republican leadership, Scalise in particular, had been skirmishing privately with CMR for days over the issue, but now the feud is out in the open.

Scalise told committee members Wednesday night that his office had offered to work with CMR for months but the offer was refused. Scalise said his problem wasn’t with passing data privacy legislation, but rather it’s with this bill. Business groups and tech companies have expressed strong opposition to the proposal.

On Tuesday, GOP leaders told CMR to work on solving some of the open issues in the privacy bill before she scheduled a markup. Just hours after that, CMR announced the markup would take place Thursday morning.

This came after CMR held her own meeting with Energy and Commerce Republicans. During that session, CMR said the markup was only “the next step in the legislative process,” according to a source close to the situation. CMR believes it’s the right time to move forward on the high-profile issue.

APRA would create new federal privacy standards, including on how information is collected, used and retained by tech companies, as well as the amount of control consumers’ control can have over that data. There’s a private right of action that lets individuals sue “covered entities” that misuse their personal data without consent.

Energy and Commerce is also scheduled to mark up the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA), a bipartisan proposal to establish new regulations for protecting children online.

— John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman

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