Week ahead: Tech awaits Trump budget

Week ahead: Tech awaits Trump budget
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President Trump is set to release his fiscal 2018 budget on Tuesday and the tech industry will be watching closely.

The proposal is expected to propose deep cuts to many federal departments, eliminating some programs entirely, and using those funds to boost defense spending.

Trump unveiled a budget outline in March that included small cuts to NASA, but was generally light on details regarding tech's top interests.

The budget almost certainly won't pass Congress, with lawmakers taking their own lead, but tech will be looking for clues to the president's priorities on science funding, information technology, and on broadband.

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Among the agencies in line for sharp cuts is the Environmental Protection Agency.

Trump's March outline called for a 31 percent reduction for the EPA, a move that critics say could sharply curtail the agency's science work, in particular on climate change.

The tech world will also be looking for clues on cyber.

Trump's March blueprint included $1.5 billion for cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security. But cyber watchers are hopeful the budget will include more for security, following on the president's cyber executive order earlier this month, and a mass global ransomware attack.

The cyber order pushes federal agencies to adopt cyber guidelines and makes agency heads more accountable.

But atop tech's budget wishlist are funds for building up the nation's broadband networks.

The White House said on Friday that the 2018 budget would be a first step toward Trump's goal of a $1 trillion package to improve the nation's infrastructure, which could include broadband.

The fiscal 2018 budget will reportedly include $200 billion for infrastructure over 10 years. But it's still unclear if that will cover broadband.

House Republicans, though, are hopeful. Reps. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) and Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnHillicon Valley: Google delays cutting off Huawei | GOP senators split over breaking up big tech | Report finds DNC lagging behind RNC on cybersecurity GOP senators split over antitrust remedies for big tech Graham warns of 5G security threat from China MORE (Tenn.), among others, have expressed confidence that broadband infrastructure will be included in a Trump infrastructure plan.

Blackburn, who has the president's ears on tech issues, said Friday at a Chamber of Commerce event that Trump hopes to act on broadband infrastructure.

The chairwoman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on communications and technology wouldn't provide more details but said she believed Trump understood that broadband could be a job creator.

Congressional Republicans have been tightlipped about what dollar amounts they'd like to see.

But there is bipartisan support on the issue, with Democrats including Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharHarris seeks Iowa edge with army of volunteers GOP senators split over antitrust remedies for big tech Fox's Brit Hume fires back at Trump's criticism of the channel MORE (D-Minn.) pushing for better efforts to get internet access to underserved, rural areas.

House Democrats on Wednesday unveiled their own $85 billion infrastructure plan, with almost half -- $40 billion -- going to broadband deployment. 

Net neutrality will also be topping the tech agenda in the coming week.

The Federal Communications Commission Chairman on Thursday moved to begin rolling back net neutrality, with a vote to start receiving comments on Chairman Ajit Pai's plan.

The proposal is now open to comments, and both sides in the debate over the internet rules are marshalling their supporters.

Advocacy group Free Press is raising money and calling on its supporters to file comments to the FCC in support of the rules

Broadband companies who think the rules go too far are launching their own campaigns.

Telecom companies say they'll honor net neutrality principles, which require them to treat all web traffic the same. But they see the rules as heavy-handed and want to scrap the rules that put them under tougher oversight from the FCC.

Those companies are ramping up their own efforts to get their message to customers and see that the rules are rolled back.

Comcast Policy's Twitter feed has been running promoted Tweets telling users that they also support net neutrality but that the Federal Trade Commission would be a better regulator.

Net neutrality supporters, though, say the consumer watchdog would be toothless if the rules are scrapped.

There is little Democrats in Congress can do, but they are vowing to take the net neutrality fight to the public.

Sens. Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyGOP senator announces bill to block companies from tracking online activity Trump faces criticism for hosting Hungary's leader Bill Nye tees off on climate change skeptics: 'The planet is on f---ing fire!' MORE (D-Mass.) Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenMomentum grows to create 'Do Not Track' registry Senate chairman says bipartisan health care package coming Thursday Senate panel approves Interior nominee over objections from Democrats MORE (D-Ore.), and Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) all joined pro-net neutrality demonstrations outside the FCC on Thursday.

Expect the debate to heat up in the coming week.

On Capitol Hill, there will be a slew of hearings on tech matters, with both chambers in session.

The Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday will hold push ahead with their tech and entrepreneurial focused "Disrupter Series." This week's hearing before the Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection will address "Delivering to Consumers," on changes to e-commerce.

Later on Tuesday, Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Sam JohnsonSamuel (Sam) Robert JohnsonSocial Security is approaching crisis territory Texas New Members 2019 Many authors of GOP tax law will not be returning to Congress MORE (R-Texas) will hold a joint subcommittee hearing on efforts to protect Americans' identities by limiting the use of Social Security numbers.

On Wednesday, the House Budget Committee will hold a hearing on the president's 2018 budget, with Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney testifying.

Relevant committees will also hold their own hearings on department and agency budgets over the coming week.

Also on Wednesday, House Committee on Science, Space and Technology will hold a hearing on the overhead cost of research.

On the other side of the Capitol, on Tuesday, the Senate Commerce Committee will have a hearing on how the Outer Space Treaty will affect commerce and settlement in space.

 

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