Technology & Innovation

Official: White House not worried Senate’s lack of input might sink USMCA
Trade pact biggest ‘casualty of Speaker Pelosi’s impeachment obsession,’ McConnell says

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., conducts a news conference Tuesday on a deal reached with the White House on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The White House has no concerns that Republican senators might jump ship on President Donald Trump’s sweeping USMCA trade pact after they were told Thursday a deal with House Democrats will leave them unable to press for further changes.

“We haven’t heard any Senate Republicans come out and say they’re opposing the deal on substance,” a White House official said Thursday, granted anonymity to be candid. “I have no concerns.”

Latest additions to National Film Registry a political smorgasbord
From ‘The Fog of War’ to ‘Before Stonewall,’ list provides vivid backdrop for contemporary issues

Errol Morris’ 2003 documentary “The Fog of War,” with former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, was among Wednesday’s additions to the National Film Registry. (Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics)

The 2019 additions to the National Film Registry, unveiled Wednesday by the Library of Congress, provide film buffs with a wide array of works with contemporary political relevance — spanning from 1903’s “Emigrants Landing at Ellis Island” to 2003’s “The Fog of War.”

“The National Film Registry has become an important record of American history, culture and creativity,” Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said in a statement announcing the list. Not everything is political, of course, and some of the movies are there simply because they found a way into the public’s imagination, like Kevin Smith’s 1994 slacker day-in-the-life comedy “Clerks,” or recorded a singular moment, like Martin Scorsese’s 1978 concert film “The Last Waltz,” which chronicled The Band’s final performance in San Francisco.  

Regulators warn about fraudsters creating synthetic borrowers
Information cobbled together from multiple people used to make fake identities, establish credit

The Federal Reserve has issued warnings about synthetic identity fraud and is expected to release a report in early 2020 outlining ways that financial companies can mitigate the problem. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The financial technology industry that’s upending consumer finance could be the solution to a kind of identity fraud that’s dogging traditional banks and fintech companies alike.

It’s called synthetic identity fraud, where instead of stealing one person’s information, criminals synthesize a false identity using information from many people — usually those unlikely to monitor their credit, like children, the elderly, prisoners or the homeless. Fraudsters then establish a credit history for the fake person over time until they can trick banks or financial technology companies into lending them money.

Homeland Security announces easing of facial recognition rule
Lawmakers, civil rights groups and tech companies have raised privacy concerns

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has clarified that facial recognition scans at airports remain voluntary for U.S. citizens. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

Homeland Security officials continue to step back from their published plan to require use of facial recognition technology on American citizens at U.S. airports when they arrive from or depart to international destinations.

The Trump administration’s proposed mandatory use of the technology was included in the so-called unified agenda, published in late November, which sets out the regulatory changes agencies intend to pursue in coming months. The proposal sought to expand mandatory facial recognition at U.S. airports “to provide that all travelers, including U.S. citizens, may be required to be photographed upon entry and/or departure.”

Wall funding talks ‘tenuous’ as appropriators report progress
Negotiations moving to a trade-off that could allow each side to walk away with a win

A section of the border wall stretches through the Rio Grande Valley sector of the Texas border on Aug. 20, 2019. (Jinitzail Hernández/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senior appropriators on Monday were narrowing gaps on border wall funding that have held up a deal for months, according to Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a key negotiator.

But the West Virginia Republican, chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, said after meeting with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and other senior Republicans that there wasn’t yet agreement. 

At Trump White House, that elusive China trade deal is always ‘close’
On Oct. 11, president saw final deal in a few weeks. Eight weeks later, talks drag on

A container ship sits docked at the Port of Oakland in May in Oakland, California. The Trump administration has yet to finalize an elusive trade pact with China that has at times shaken global markets. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

ANALYSIS — A trade agreement with China that President Donald Trump boastfully announced nearly two months ago remains stalled, despite a top White House economic adviser’s Friday pledge that a final deal is “close.”

On Thursday, the often-verbose president was notably succinct when a reporter asked about the on-again/off-again/on-again China trade negotiations, including whether he would follow through on a threat to slap 15 percent tariffs on $160 billion worth of Chinese-made items on Dec. 15.

Appropriators seek to wrap up talks this weekend
But panel members acknowledge ‘hurdles’ as Dec. 20 deadline for bill passage looms

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, on Thursday said he was “more enthusiastic than I was a couple of days ago” that final negotiations on spending bills could be done this weekend. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Spending bill negotiators set their sights on wrapping up a year-end deal by this weekend, but they differed on how realistic that deadline might be.

With only two weeks left before current funding runs dry, appropriators are hoping to finalize work on all 12 spending bills and pass them by Dec. 20 to avoid another stopgap measure or possible government shutdown. But unless a deal comes together in the next several days, lawmakers have warned, there likely won’t be enough time to write the bills and move them through both chambers before the holiday recess.

Appropriators set Friday deadline for unresolved issues
Signals renewed intent to get a spending bill deal completed before the holiday recess

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby says finalizing all 12 spending bills would be a “monumental task.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Individual spending bill negotiators are attempting to resolve lingering disputes this week before kicking any final disagreements upstairs.

Subcommittee heads have until Friday to give Appropriations Committee leadership a list of the sticking points that must be settled to complete work on fiscal 2020 bills, lawmakers said Wednesday.

Trump has a new NATO foil: Canada’s ‘two-faced’ Justin Trudeau
U.S. president continues to embrace Turkey's Erdogan as other leaders keep their distance

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak Tuesday at the NATO summit in London. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

France’s Emmanuel Macron was first. Now President Donald Trump is feuding at a NATO summit in London with Canada’s Justin Trudeau, calling him “two-faced.”

But in keeping with his contrarian foreign policy approach, Trump told reporters Wednesday he thinks Turkey’s hardline leader, Recep Erdogan, is doing a “great job.”

House pushes ‘dozen bills or none’ approach to spending talks
GOP senators express doubts as House leaders insist on finalizing appropriations by Dec. 20

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby says he doubts that all 12 overdue spending bills for the current fiscal year could be finalized before the Dec. 20 deadline. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Democratic leaders are insisting that all 12 overdue spending bills for the current fiscal year must be finalized before any of them can reach the floor, according to sources familiar with strategy talks.

The demand for some kind of grand bargain could complicate hopes for completion of at least a portion of fiscal 2020 appropriations before stopgap funding runs dry on Dec. 20 and Congress adjourns for the winter holidays. 

Broken bromance: Trump and Macron clash in lengthy bickerfest at NATO summit
‘They decided not to be compliant with NATO,’ French leader snaps at U.S. president about Turkey

U.S. President Donald Trump, right, and France’s President Emmanuel Macron aired their differences in public on Tuesday. (Photo by Ludovic Marin/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

ANALYSIS — One of the world’s most unlikely world leader bromances appears to be over.

President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron clashed Tuesday in a remarkable question-and-answer session with reporters that was broadcast around the globe. From U.S.-French trade to Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria and the Islamic State’s posture there to a clear disagreement about the role of NATO, the two leaders who once wooed one another jousted and interrupted one another for nearly 45 minutes during an alliance meeting in London.

Trump relishes in casting France’s Macron as new bad boy of NATO
US president acknowledges impeachment probe casts ‘cloud’ over his diplomatic efforts

President Donald Trump and France's President Emmanuel Macron answer questions during their meeting at at the NATO summit in London on Tuesday.. (ludovic Marin/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Casting Emmanuel Macron as the bad boy of NATO, President Donald Trump kicked off a two-day alliance meeting by sounding off on everything from the French president’s “insulting” comments, his own impeachment and a possible Mike Pompeo Senate bid to an ally’s crucial elections and beyond.

During a 50-minute gaggle with reporters during a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the Trump appeared to revel in putting heat on Macron as their relationship continues to sour. Unprompted by reporters, he dinged Macron over his country’s unemployment rate and sputtering economy and offered something of a warning to France as he — in a complete 180-degree shift — became the NATO alliance’s defender.

Big Apple debates use of algorithms in policing
Advocates fear erosion of civil liberties as cities embrace new tech to safeguard residents

Advocates who favor greater oversight of the NYPD’s use of algorithms to aid in investigations are expressing concern after New York Mayor Bill de Blasio included an exemption for law enforcement in an executive order establishing a new position to monitor use of algorithms and artificial intelligence by city agencies. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

NEW YORK — The extent to which artificial intelligence and automated decision-making should play a role in policing is at the center of a debate over civil liberties in the nation’s largest city.

Technologies powered by artificial intelligence, such as facial recognition and predictive policing tools, have been shown to have racial and ethnic biases, raising questions about whether their use by police could exacerbate inequalities already baked into the criminal justice system.

Big data poses big problems for banks, experts say
Risks to security and privacy cited as products and services develop rapidly

Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmer says big data systems generate “astounding” amounts of data. “This is the future, and there’s no going back from here,” he said at a Nov. 21 hearing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The financial services industry’s use of big data and data aggregation tools has the potential to benefit millions of consumers but also could disproportionately affect the privacy and security of vulnerable populations.

That’s the take of experts who testified to the House Financial Services Committee’s Task Force on Financial Technology last month, hoping to convince lawmakers that more attention is needed on the issue.

IG: DHS knew it couldn’t track migrant kids separated at border
The findings further illuminate the behind-the-scenes chaos in the lead-up to the ‘zero tolerance’ policy rollout

A woman holds an anti-Zero Tolerance policy sign at the Families Belong Together protest outside of the White House in 2018. A new report found DHS knew it lacked the technology to track more than 26,000 children separated at the border. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Department of Homeland Security knew it lacked the technology to track more than 26,000 children it expected to separate from their parents at the U.S. southern border in 2018 as part of its controversial “zero tolerance” policy. As a result, the roughly 3,000-plus children DHS ultimately estimated as being affected may actually be a severe underestimate, the agency’s inspector general reported Wednesday.

“Because of these IT deficiencies, we could not confirm the total number of families DHS separated during the Zero Tolerance period,” the watchdog office said in a report.