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Jared Wickerham / AP

A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee this morning will hold an unheralded but consequential hearing on a bill designed to both regulate and encourage the deployment of driverless cars ("highly automated vehicles," to Congress).

  • Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) says this is a rare bipartisan issue where you can protect consumers but also encourage innovation. Her district includes Ford HQ in Dearborn, plus auto plants, suppliers and R&D labs.
  • "Like it or not, this is coming," she told me. "It's exploding faster than we can promulgate regulations."
  • Drones and autonomous vehicles are among the technologies running way ahead of the appetite and ability of a dysfunctional federal government to regulate them, and this collision of technology and regulation is one of the new realities for Washington.

Soon, drones will be dropping off packages, robots will make and deliver pizzas, and cars without drivers will cart us around time while we watch "Thrones" on our HBO in-car TV app.

California highway officials plan to start laying down thicker lane lines (from 4 inches to 6) that'll be easier for self-driving cars to follow.

The Highly Automated Vehicle Testing and Deployment Act of 2017 (full text here) would govern how to safely test the driving technologies that manufacturers have been developing, and covers cybersecurity and how to deploy the vehicles.

Why it matters: Government, especially one divided and gridlocked, is incapable of setting the rules and parameters for technologies that will transform our lives along these big trends. This is the rare bill that both parties support and could easily be signed into law by President Trump this year — unless zero-sum politics intervenes.

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Go deeper

Updated 60 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise" — Two years of COVID-19 — Prior coronavirus infections may not protect well against Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Data demonstrates most-vaccinated counties less vulnerable to worst of COVID — Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate.
  4. World: Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles downWHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Vulnerable Democrats: Less Trump talk

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Vulnerable House Democrats are convinced they need to talk less about the man who helped them get elected: President Trump.

Why it matters: Democrats are privately concerned nationalizing the 2022 mid-terms with emotionally-charged issues — from Critical Race Theory to Donald Trump's role in the Jan. 6 insurrection — will hamstring their ability to sell the local benefits of President Biden's Build Back Better agenda.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Bipartisan tributes flood in for "giant of the Senate" Bob Dole

Then-Vice President Joe Biden and former Sen. Bob Dole at an event put on by the World Food Program where he was awarded the first “McGovern-Dole Leadership Award” in December 2013. Photo: Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call

Republican and Democratic politicians, including former Senate colleagues, are sharing condolences and memories commemorating the life of Bob Dole, who passed away at 98 on Sunday morning.

The big picture: Dole, the Republican presidential nominee in 1996, was the longest serving Republican leader in the Senate until 2018, when current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell surpassed his record.