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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

In the absence of uniform federal rules, states across the U.S. have ramped up online privacy legislation, which could in turn push Congress to pass its own law faster and with tougher provisions.

Driving the news: Virginia became the second state to enact a consumer privacy law this week. A number of other states are working on similar bills.

  • Some privacy advocates have said the Virginia law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2023, is too industry-friendly. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) called it an "important first step."
  • Washington, New York, Connecticut, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey and Utah are among the states considering their own privacy legislation this year.

The catch: For years, Congress has wrestled with efforts to pass a comprehensive privacy law.

  • Democrats and Republicans have sparred over whether a federal law should pre-empt state rules, with Democrats largely preferring to give states the freedom to enact tougher rules beyond a federal standard.
  • Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) intends to reintroduce privacy legislation that would preempt state laws and give additional resources and powers to the Federal Trade Commission for enforcement.
  • “In the face of congressional inaction, states are understandably going at this on their own to protect their residents in our digital age, including California and Virginia with others following suit,” DelBene said this week. “Without a national standard, our rights change as we travel from state to state, creating confusion for consumers and an unworkable environment for small businesses.”

Between the lines: State laws are beginning to move the goal posts for Congress, since many lawmakers will be reluctant to offer voters fewer protections than California and Virginia provide.

  • State action may also prompt Congress to move faster, as the threat of a patchwork of state privacy laws becomes a more practical problem for businesses.

What to watch: While some in Congress may seek a push on privacy, that could be tough, given the Democratic majority's focus on COVID-19 relief, infrastructure and other priorities.

Go deeper

House passes $768 billion defense spending bill

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The House approved a $768 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 2022 fiscal year in a bipartisan 316-113 vote on Thursday.

Why it matters: The annual bill, which authorizes Pentagon spending levels and guides policy for the department, would require women to register for the military draft, among other provisions.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Republicans’ secret lobbying

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The five Senate Republicans who helped negotiate and draft the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill have been privately courting their Republican colleagues to pass the measure in the House.

Why it matters: House GOP leaders are actively urging their members to oppose the bill. The senators are working to undercut that effort as Monday shapes up as a do-or-die moment for the bipartisan bill.

CBC members nix border visit

A Haitian migrant carries a toddler on his shoulders today as he crosses the Rio Grande River. Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP via Getty Images

Several members of the Congressional Black Caucus weighed visiting the U.S.-Mexico border this week to investigate the conditions faced by Haitian migrants and protest allegations of inhumane treatment by U.S. agents.

Why it matters: It's a thorny proposition both in terms of timing and messaging. Going assures a new wave of negative headlines for President Biden amid sinking popularity. And with congressional deadlines in the coming days over infrastructure, a possible government shutdown and debt-limit crisis, Democrats can't afford to lose any votes in the House.