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Andy Wong / AP

House lawmakers voted Wednesday to move forward with a broad bill that would for the first time create federal laws around self-driving cars. The bill would give wide-ranging authority to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to oversee development and testing, which is supported by manufacturers who say a patchwork of state laws could severely slow down the technology.

What's next: The bill heads to a full House Energy & Commerce committee markup next week, and will head to the House floor in September. The Senate is also taking up similar legislation.

Early days: With Congress bitterly divided on so many issues, the markup displayed a surprising bipartisan congeniality. It felt like a throwback to hearings held during the early days of the internet when members linked arms to help the nascent technology progress — before the vicious net neutrality debate emerged. Self-driving car technology is still novel and far from being conquered by a set of companies. Expect the tenor to change as the market evolves and winners start to emerge.

The bill also:

  • Requires vehicle manufacturers to submit safety assessment certifications and develop cybersecurity plans.
  • Creates a federal advisory committee to study areas like workforce and privacy issues.

Lawmakers are still wrestling with a few remaining issues:

  • Cybersecurity: Several worry that the bill doesn't fully address cybersecurity requirements for autonomous vehicles, or "computers on wheels." Rep. Tony Cardenas wants security requirements to apply to all vehicles, not just self-driving ones, as all new cars now collect and process large amounts of data.
  • States' roles: There are questions around what authority states will have to oversee safety features, and also how pre-emption provisions could impact car dealers and other important players in local economies. Rep. Matsui wants to keep states engaged in the testing and deployment of vehicles rather than cut them out.
  • Federal resources: Putting the onus on NHTSA to oversee all self-driving vehicles means the agency needs more resources to do the job.

Go deeper

Obama says Powell exemplified what America "can and should be"

Then-President Obama speaks alongside former Secretary of State Colin Powell (left) during a meeting in the Oval Office in 2010. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Obama called Colin Powell an "exemplary soldier and an exemplary patriot" in a statement honoring the former general following his death from COVID complications on Monday.

Why it matters: Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state, was known as a Republican but played a critical role in helping Obama get elected in 2008.

Justice Department asks Supreme Court to block Texas abortion ban

Abortion rights activists rally at the Texas State Capitol on Sept. 11 in Austin, Texas. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

The Justice Department on Monday asked the Supreme Court to temporarily block Texas' near-total ban on abortions while federal courts consider its constitutionality.

The big picture: The court last month allowed the ban to take effect, rejecting an emergency application by abortion-rights groups. The law bars the procedure after cardiac activity is detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

Updated 3 hours ago - Health

This arthritis drug cost $198 in 2008. Now it's more than $10,000

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In 2008, a box of 30 anti-inflammatory rectal suppositories that treats arthritis, called Indocin, had a price tag of $198. As of Oct. 1, the price of that same box was 52 times higher, totaling $10,350.

Why it matters: As federal lawmakers continue to waver on drug price reforms, Indocin is another example of how nothing prevents drug companies from hiking prices at will and selling them within a broken supply chain.