Roger Wicker

Progress on federal data privacy bill slows in both chambers
Consensus is elusive, say congressional aides, industry sources and lobbyists

Senate Commerce Chairman Roger Wicker says “there has been no timetable” for a data privacy bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers and industry groups want to pass a federal data privacy law this year, but progress on the measure has slowed. It’s now unclear whether legislation resembling California’s tough requirements on the tech industry can clear hurdles in Congress and be signed into law before the end of the year. 

Small bipartisan groups of lawmakers in both chambers are working on draft legislation that was supposed to have been unveiled in May but has been delayed and is now expected to be released sometime before the August congressional recess. 

Thad Cochran: A life in photos
Photos of the late Mississippi senator from the CQ Roll Call archives

Portrait of Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., from 1985. A year earlier, he easily won a high-profile race for re-election over former Democratic Gov. William F. Winter. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran died Thursday at the age of 81. The mannerly former chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee — where he was a dependable provider for his home state — spent more than four decades in Congress.

Cochran retired from the Senate in April 2018 after dealing with health issues. The longtime Republican lawmaker began his congressional career in the House, winning election to Mississippi’s old 4th District in 1972. After three terms, he ran and won a race for Senate in 1978, becoming the first Republican to win statewide office in the Magnolia State since Reconstruction. 

Thad Cochran, former Senate Appropriations chairman, has died at age 81
Mississippi Republican known for old-school civility served in Congress for 45 years

Former Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., who died Thursday, served in Congress for 45 years. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Thad Cochran of Mississippi, the mannerly former chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, where he was a dependable provider for his home state during more than four decades in Congress, has died at the age of 81.

Cochran, who retired from the Senate on April 1, 2018, after dealing with health issues, died Thursday morning in Oxford, Mississippi, according to a statement circulated by Chris Gallegos, his longtime communications director.

Senate backs bill to stem flood of robocalls plaguing cell phones
Bipartisan effort would increase civil penalties to $10,000 per call

Senate Majority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., sponsored the bill to tackle illegal robocalls. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers are fed up with the barrage of scam and nuisance calls plaguing them and their constituents and on Thursday, the Senate passed a bipartisan measure to combat robocalls.

Senators voted, 97-1, to pass a bill (S 151) designed to authenticate and block robocalls and enforce penalties on scammers who use automated equipment to pump phones full of bogus calls.

Trump to Democrats: OK new NAFTA before public works bill
‘Once Congress has passed USMCA, we should turn our attention to a bipartisan infrastructure package,’ the president said

From left, Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., Vice President Mike Pence, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., President Donald Trump, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., exit the Capitol after the annual Friends of Ireland Luncheon on March 14, 2019. As Democrats head to the White House to meet with Trump over a massive public works bill, the president told them such legislation should take a back seat to his new NAFTA deal, the USMCA. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

On the eve of his second meeting with congressional Democrats about a potential $2 trillion public works bill, President Donald Trump told them such legislation should take a back seat to his trade deal with Canada and Mexico.

“Before we get to infrastructure, it is my strong view that Congress should first pass the important and popular USMCA trade deal,” Trump wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y. “Once Congress has passed USMCA, we should turn our attention to a bipartisan infrastructure package,” the president continued.

What is carrot pudding? And other burning questions from Congress’ high-calorie cook-off
46 lawmakers strapped on aprons to raise money for the March of Dimes

Lawmakers don their chef gear on Wednesday to raise money for the March of Dimes. (Kathryn Lyons/CQ Roll Call)

Now that I’ve awoken from my food coma, I’m able to share how I (over)indulged at the 37th Annual March of Dimes Gourmet Gala Wednesday night. Forty-six members of Congress competed in this year’s cook-off, but only six lucky members won trophies, plus coveted bragging rights.

Now, any cuisinier who fed me last night is a winner in my book — even Sen. Bob Casey, who shared his family’s carrot pudding. What the &%$# is carrot pudding, you ask?

Pelosi, Schumer head to the White House for infrastructure talks
Pelosi said in a letter the meeting will focus on advancing bipartisan action on a bill to grow the economy and create jobs

The Washington Monument can be seen as traffic travels over the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge also known as the South Capitol Street bridge April 13, 2015 in Washington, DC. The bridge is one of 61,000 bridges across America that the Department of Transportation said were structurally deficient and in need of repair. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer are expected to meet with the president at the White House on Tuesday to try to set a path to passage of a public works package as the 2020 elections draw nearer.

In a Friday letter to fellow lawmakers, Pelosi said the meeting will focus on advancing “bipartisan action on a bold infrastructure bill to create jobs and grow our economy in a green and modern way.”

The net neutrality bill is dead in the Senate, but Democrats don’t mind
Democrats are confident they’ll be able to use it to skewer vulnerable GOP candidates next November

Sens. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., leave the Senate Policy luncheons in the Capitol on Tuesday, April 2, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already declared the Democratic net neutrality bill, which passed the House on Wednesday, “dead on arrival” in the upper chamber.

But Senate Democrats don’t seem to mind.

Your car is watching you. Who owns the data?
Computers on wheels raise thorny questions about data privacy

The European Union has already ruled that data generated by cars belongs to their owners. Above, vehicles cross the Austrian-German border in 2016. (Johannes Simon/Getty Images file photo)

If you’re driving a late model car or truck, chances are that the vehicle is mostly computers on wheels, collecting and wirelessly transmitting vast quantities of data to the car manufacturer not just on vehicle performance but personal information, too, such as your weight, the restaurants you visit, your music tastes and places you go.

A car can generate about 25 gigabytes of data every hour and as much as 4,000 gigabytes a day, according to some estimates. The data trove in the hands of car makers could be worth as much as $750 billion by 2030, the consulting firm McKinsey has estimated. But consumer groups, aftermarket repair shops and privacy advocates say the data belongs to the car’s owners and the information should be subject to data privacy laws.

Hearing into 737 Max crashes will focus on FAA oversight
A Senate subcommittee will question the FAA‘s certification process for the 737 Max 8 and 9 began Wednesday

A Boeing 737 Max 8 airliner takes off from Renton Municipal Airport near the company’s factory, on March 22, 2019 in Renton, Washington. (Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

The first of what will likely be many congressional hearings into two catastrophic overseas crashes of Boeing’s new 737 Max jets began Wednesday with senators focusing on how federal safety regulators delegate work to the manufacturers they oversee and how they react after accidents happen.

The Senate’s aviation and space subcommittee, led by Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, will question the Federal Aviation Administration’s certification process for the 737 Max 8 and 9, and the March 13 decision to ground the planes, which came after other airlines and nations had already done so.