Nearly a year after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) launched the SAFE Innovation Framework for artificial intelligence (AI) with Senators Mike Rounds (R-SD), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and Todd Young (R-IN), the bipartisan group has released a 31-page “Roadmap” for AI policy.  The overarching theme of the Roadmap is “harnessing the full potential of AI while minimizing the risks of AI in the near and long term.”

In contrast to Europe’s approach to regulating AI, the Roadmap does not propose or even contemplate a comprehensive AI law.  Rather, it identifies key themes and areas of agreement and directs the relevant congressional committees of jurisdiction to legislate on key issues.  The Roadmap recommendations are informed by the nine AI Insight Forums that the bipartisan group convened over the last year.

  • Supporting U.S. Innovation in AI.  The Roadmap recommends least $32 billion in funding per year for non-defense AI innovation, and the authors call on the Appropriations Committee to “develop emergency appropriations language to fill the gap between current spending levels and the [National Security Commission on AI (NSCAI)]-recommended level,” suggesting the bipartisan group would like to see Congress increase funding for AI as soon as this year. The funding would cover a host of purposes, such as AI R&D, including AI chip design and manufacture; funding the outstanding CHIPS and Science Act accounts that relate to AI; and AI testing and evaluation at NIST.
    • This pillar also endorses the bipartisan Creating Resources for Every American to Experiment with Artificial Intelligence (CREATE AI) Act (S. 2714), which would broaden nonprofit and academic researchers’ access to AI development resources including computing power, datasets, testbeds, and training through a new National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource.  The Roadmap also supports elements of the Future of AI Innovation Act (S. 4178) related to “grand challenge” funding programs, which aim to accelerate AI development through prize competitions and federal investment initiatives.
    • The bipartisan group recommends including funds for the Department of Defense and DARPA to address national security threats and opportunities in the emergency funding measure.  
  • AI and the Workforce.  The Roadmap recommends committees of jurisdiction consider the impact of AI on U.S. workers and ensure that working Americans benefit from technological progress, including through training programs and by studying the impacts of AI on workers.  Importantly, the bipartisan group recommends legislation to “improve the U.S. immigration system for high-skilled STEM workers.”  The Roadmap does not address benefit programs for displaced workers.
  • Civil Rights, Consumer Protection, and Other High-Impact Uses of AI.  The bipartisan group urges congressional committees to address potential harmful applications of AI related to health, safety, civil rights, bias, online child sexual abuse, fraud, misinformation, and other concerns.  Executive-branch agencies, including the Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and others announced that they will enforce existing laws in the context of AI.  The bipartisan group acknowledges that some laws may need to be updated to address gaps related to AI and that further requirements related to transparency, explainability, and testing and evaluation may be needed for high-risk uses of AI.  The Roadmap does not make any specific policy recommendations to address bias in AI algorithms, including use cases such as facial recognition and employment decisions.  It does, however, promote a federal framework for testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles and applauds the use of AI to improve health care outcomes.  The Roadmap calls on relevant committees to review whether unspecified “other potential uses for AI should be either extremely limited or banned.” 

Elections and Democracy.  Mitigating the impact of AI and AI-generated “deepfake” content on U.S. elections is a key focus of the Roadmap.  As Leader Schumer previously voiced on the Senate floor: “if we are not careful, AI could jaundice, and even totally discredit, our entire system of elections as we know it.”  The Roadmap “encourages AI deployers and content providers to implement robust protections in advance of the upcoming election to mitigate AI-generated content that is objectively false, while still protecting First Amendment rights.”  The same day the Roadmap was released, the Senate Rules Committee passed three bipartisan bills addressing the threat posed by AI-generated content in elections, each sponsored by Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar (D-MN):

  • The Protect Elections from Deceptive AI Act (S. 2770), which would ban AI-generated deepfakes in federal elections, and the AI Transparency in Elections Act (S. 3875), which require disclosure of any AI-generated content in political ads, each passed on a 9-2 vote with no Republican Committee members voting in favor of reporting these bills to the floor.  Although both bills enjoyed Republican support at introduction, their partisan passage in Committee casts uncertainty over their prospects for Senate passage. 
  • The Preparing Election Administrators for AI Act (S. 3897), which would direct the Election Assistance Commission to establish voluntary standards for state and local election officials to address the threat of AI technologies to election administration, in contrast to the other two bills, passed unanimously.
  • Privacy and Liability.  The bipartisan group acknowledges that our current legal regime to assign liability for harms to consumers and others from AI may need to be updated.  The Roadmap also endorses a “strong comprehensive federal data privacy law” and other measures to protect consumer information used in AI systems.  That is likely a nod to the American Privacy Rights Act (APRA), bipartisan and bicameral draft legislation championed by Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and House Energy & Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) which would establish nationwide standards governing the collection and use of consumer data.  A similar bill, the American Data Privacy and Protection Act (H.R. 8152, 117th Cong.), advanced through the House Energy and Commerce Committee in 2022 by a vote of 53 to 2, but the APRA contains several changes, including a provision allowing consumers to opt out of certain uses of their data.
  • Transparency, Explainability, Intellectual Property, and Copyright.  The Roadmap emphasizes a need for transparency as to when an AI system is in use and the data sets used to train AI models, but it does not recommend specifics related to how best to test and evaluate systems to safeguard against AI risks.  The Roadmap does not make specific recommendations concerning intellectual property policy, opting instead to defer to ongoing efforts by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the U.S. Copyright Office to collect public comments and study the interplay of IP protections and AI in contexts such as training of generative AI models, patent and copyright protections for inventions and works produced using the assistance of AI, and other issues.  The bipartisan group stresses the importance of the United States “continu[ing] to lead the world on this front.”
  • National Security.  Bolstering the use of AI in U.S. cyber capabilities is a key focus of the Roadmap in addition to ensuring there is sufficient AI talent for the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community.  The Roadmap also recommends committees of jurisdiction consider known and uncertain risks that AI could pose with respect to defense, intelligence, critical infrastructure, and other strategic contexts.  It advises committees to consider when international collaboration or measures such as export controls and classification would be advisable to protect U.S. national security.

In assessing AI-related policy proposals that could become law this year, we expect Congress to include AI provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act.  Emergency funding for AI would be a significant development, but it is not clear that Members of Congress have the political will to appropriate billions of dollars for AI or that an appropriate legislative vehicle exists to carry such a provision.  Alongside these developments in Congress, states continue to proceed with AI legislation and guidance, whether comprehensive or targeted at issues such as political deepfakes or government procurement of generative AI

Photo of Holly Fechner Holly Fechner

Holly Fechner advises clients on complex public policy matters that combine legal and political opportunities and risks. She leads teams that represent companies, entities, and organizations in significant policy and regulatory matters before Congress and the Executive Branch.

She is a co-chair of…

Holly Fechner advises clients on complex public policy matters that combine legal and political opportunities and risks. She leads teams that represent companies, entities, and organizations in significant policy and regulatory matters before Congress and the Executive Branch.

She is a co-chair of the Covington’s Technology Industry Group and a member of the Covington Political Action Committee board of directors.

Holly works with clients to:

  • Develop compelling public policy strategies
  • Research law and draft legislation and policy
  • Draft testimony, comments, fact sheets, letters and other documents
  • Advocate before Congress and the Executive Branch
  • Form and manage coalitions
  • Develop communications strategies

She is the Executive Director of Invent Together and a visiting lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She serves on the board of directors of the American Constitution Society.

Holly served as Policy Director for Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) and Chief Labor and Pensions Counsel for the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee.

She received The American Lawyer, “Dealmaker of the Year” award. in 2019. The Hill named her a “Top Lobbyist” from 2013 to the present, and she has been ranked by Chambers USA – America’s Leading Business Lawyers from 2012 to the present.

Photo of Matthew Shapanka Matthew Shapanka

Matthew Shapanka draws on more than 15 years of experience from Capitol Hill, private practice, state government, and political campaigns to counsel clients significant legislative, regulatory, and enforcement matters. He develops and executes complex, multifaceted public policy initiatives for clients seeking actions by…

Matthew Shapanka draws on more than 15 years of experience from Capitol Hill, private practice, state government, and political campaigns to counsel clients significant legislative, regulatory, and enforcement matters. He develops and executes complex, multifaceted public policy initiatives for clients seeking actions by Congress, state legislatures, and federal and state government agencies, many with significant legal and political opportunities and risks. Matt also leads the firm’s state policy practice, advising clients on complex multistate legislative and regulatory policy matters and managing state advocacy efforts.

Matt rejoined Covington after serving as Chief Counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, where he advised Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) on all legal, policy, and oversight matters before the Committee, including federal election and campaign finance law, Federal Election Commission nominations, and oversight of legislative branch agencies, U.S. Capitol security, and Senate rules and regulations. Most significantly, Matt led the Committee’s staff work on the Electoral Count Reform Act – a landmark bipartisan law enacted in 2022 to update the procedures for certifying and counting votes in presidential elections —and the Committee’s joint (with the Homeland Security Committee) bipartisan investigation into the security planning and response to the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.

Both in Congress and at Covington, Matt has prepared dozens of corporate and nonprofit executives, academics, government officials, and presidential nominees for testimony at congressional committee hearings and depositions. He is also an experienced legislative drafter who has composed dozens of bills introduced in Congress and state legislatures, including several that have been enacted into law across multiple policy areas.

In addition to his policy work, Matt advises and represents clients on the full range of political law compliance and enforcement matters involving federal election, campaign finance, lobbying, and government ethics laws, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s “Pay-to-Play” rule, and the election and political laws of states and municipalities across the country.

Before law school, Matt worked in the administration of former Governor Deval Patrick (D-MA) as a research analyst in the Massachusetts Recovery & Reinvestment Office, where he worked on policy, communications, and compliance matters for federal economic recovery funding awarded to the state. He has also worked for federal, state, and local political candidates in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Samuel Klein

Samuel Klein helps clients realize their policy objectives, manage reputational risks, and navigate the regulatory environment governing political engagement.

As a member of Covington’s Election and Political Law practice, Sam assists clients facing Congressional investigations and offers guidance on ethics laws; with the…

Samuel Klein helps clients realize their policy objectives, manage reputational risks, and navigate the regulatory environment governing political engagement.

As a member of Covington’s Election and Political Law practice, Sam assists clients facing Congressional investigations and offers guidance on ethics laws; with the firm’s Public Policy group, Sam supports strategic advocacy across a breadth of policy domains at the federal, state, and local levels.

Sam spent one year as a law clerk at the Federal Election Commission. His prior experience includes serving as an intern to two senior members of Congress and helping clients communicate nuanced policy concepts to lawmakers and stakeholders as a public-affairs consultant.