PolitiHacks Digest – 1 July 2013 – Immigration reform, startup visa passes the Senate, what’s next?

These folks want your support:

  1. StopWatching.us—Oppose government surveillance of us?
  2. RestoreTheFourth.net—Meetups around the country for the Fourth of July to end unconstitutional surveillance
  3. Tesla Motors—Asks for executive assistance in blocking state laws from halting direct sales (Warning: unclear what the President can do, see below)

Got a cause you want to share? Tell me.

Political issues affecting startups: 

Open Internet and Privacy

More information continues to emerge from the PRISM disclosures. Jumping beyond strict open Internet/privacy issues, the latest is bad news for US hopes for developing a free trade zone treaty with the EU, called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, equivalent to the Trans-Pacific Partnership that is opposed by notable Internet figures and organizations for both its secret process and policy positions.

What to know:

  1. Supporters and opponents say that NSA surveillance debate making it harder to pass CISPA, the information sharing proposal to harden networked systems against malicious intrusions, through the Senate
  2. NSA surveillance includes real-time notifications (not direct content) of online activity says Washington Post
  3. NSA surveillance avoided close US allies (New Zealand, UK, etc…) to focus on others, which involved collecting significant data from German, EU sources, in particular
  4. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) leads bipartisan effort in 26 Senators requesting answers from Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Admiral James Clapper on potentially lying to Congress about surveillance
  5. StopWatching.us petition crosses 500k signees

People to Watch:

  1. DNI James Clapper—under intensifying political pressure over accuracy of testimony to Congress on surveillance programs
  2. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)—San Francisco elected officials who are increasingly vocal on their defense of the surveillance programs to a skeptical base
  3. Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Richard Durbin (D-IL), the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and No. 2 Democratic Leadership, respectively, forsupporting greater transparency on government surveillance and demonstrating an expansion beyond traditional privacy defenders
  4. Sens. Charles Grassley (R-IA), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and John Cornyn (R-TX), Ranking Member of Senate Judiciary and top Republican Leadership, whose support would signal a massive Legislative backlash against Executive surveillance
With the Senate wrapped up, the House of Representatives is under increasing pressure to pass one or several immigration reform billsanything at all would be nice. We have some signals from the Senate vote [PolitiHacks analysis], and we heard back in January that leaders in the House of both parties assign a 40-60% chance of success. Advocacy and lobbying will pivot over this next week from Senate to House.

What to Know:

  1. Comprehensive immigration reform (S.744) passes Senate 68-32
  2. Moran, Warner-Udall, and Shaheen startup visa amendments did not receive votes, as only 10 amendments out of more than 500 submitted were voted on
  3. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) successfully sees SKILLS Visa Act through House Judiciary Committee markup 20-14 on party lines with minor improvements made—contains startup visa, though based on original Startup Visa Act of 2010 rather than improved later versions
  4. Senate Republicans voted 14-32 against the immigration bill and are seen as more moderate than House Republicans
  5. Republicans hold a 234-201 advantage over Democrats, with typically 218 votes (50%) needed to pass a bill

People to Watch:

  1. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA, Bakersfield), Majority Whip—Responsible for counting the votes for and against a bill, he’ll be a decisive player in determining House Republican strategy on immigration
  2. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA, Roanoke), House Judiciary Committee Chair—determines which immigration bills are available to move to a final vote, father of former Facebook designer Bobby Goodlatte
  3. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL, Chicago), Gang of Seven negotiator—notably engaged the startup community on immigration reform via TechCrunch and a Democratic leader on immigration reform, who supports startup visa
Catch-all on startup policy

Primarily addressing establishment industry backlash against startup disruption, this week has two good examples on why unspecific political power is not enough to hit the political system and get a desired outcome—the first step of any successful political fight is identifying decision makers [PolitiHacks Analysis].

What to Know:

  1. Tesla makes progress in blocking North Carolina bill that would stop direct sales;New York is next, while Texas has banned Tesla direct sales andMassachussetts’ legal fight continues
  2. Uber, Lyft, Sidecar sent cease-and-desist orders by City of LA, despite CA state approval
People to Watch:

  1. Tom Kalil, Nick Sinai, and Doug Rand; White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)—Someone in OSTP will be tasked with the official response to the Tesla petition, which now has 75k signers and a week left; it’s an office more should be aware of
Campaigns and Elections
Expect Representatives and Senators to visit the Bay Area for fundraising and mixers during this weekend recess.
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