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Chuck Schumer AI regulation

Schumer-led bipartisan group releases ‘roadmap’ for AI regulation

A bipartisan quartet led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer unveiled an ambitious multi-year roadmap this morning for congressional action on artificial intelligence, proposing multi-billion-dollar investments over several years.

The group — which includes Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) — compiled a list of dozens of recommendations for what Schumer says will be a committee-driven process in the Senate.

In a briefing with reporters Tuesday evening ahead of the plan’s release, Schumer hinted at potential floor action as soon as this year, vowing the Senate will advance legislation as it’s ready rather than wait for a mega-bill to come together.

“What we expect is that we would have some bills that certainly pass the Senate… by the end of the year,” Schumer said. “It won’t cover the whole waterfront. There’s too much to cover and things are changing [so quickly].”

But Schumer did not make a firm commitment on legislative action this calendar year with the election less than six months away and the overall appetite for bipartisanship waning. Schumer said the roadmap is intended to last well beyond the current Congress.

“We’re not going to hold up the committees that are moving more quickly to wait for one massive bill,” Schumer said. “It’s going to be ongoing into the next Congress. Whatever happens in the election — the fact that we’re bipartisan will allow us to continue.”

The details: The roadmap includes dozens of recommendations for Senate committees as they go about drafting legislation on everything from job displacement to intellectual property rights to national security threats.

It also recommends the enactment of a data privacy bill. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) recently introduced a comprehensive data privacy package, but it’s unclear whether it will advance.

Some sections of the roadmap are more specific than others — and that was deliberate, the senators said.

For example, Schumer said election security is “one of the highest priorities” given the proximity to the 2024 elections. Schumer noted that the Senate Rules Committee is marking up election-related AI legislation later today, including a bipartisan bill requiring that political ads using AI feature a disclaimer. There are other proposals addressing so-called deepfakes.

But the election security section of the roadmap is particularly vague, suggesting there’s not as much agreement among members of the working group.

The cost: The price tag is steep. The group recommends spending up to $32 billion per year over the next several years as part of the framework. Rounds sought to push back on the inevitable objections from members of his own party who won’t like big new government spending at a time when the federal deficit is already high.

Making these investments now, Rounds argues, will save billions in health care costs, especially with the potential for AI to help cure chronic illnesses.

“We’re going to upgrade the old message of ‘you could be penny wise and pound foolish’ — in this case, may very well be, ‘you could be billions wise and trillions foolish,’” Rounds said.

Schumer intends to meet with Speaker Mike Johnson about the framework in the coming weeks, and their staffs have already held preliminary discussions. Johnson and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries recently stood up a bipartisan AI task force.

— Andrew Desiderio

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