Sep 6, 2017

Self-driving debate moves to Senate as House clears bill

House lawmakers approved a bill Wednesday that will allow federal authorities to supersede some state standards for self-driving vehicles in an early attempt to avoid a patchwork of regulations that could hinder the prospects of the nascent technology.

What's next: Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is expected to announce updated guidance for self-driving vehicles next week. And a group of Senators are working on their own legislative package to tackle the issue. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune said Wednesday that draft text of that proposal could come "by the end of this week."

The flashpoint: Trucks. Senate Democrats are under pressure from labor unions who want them to follow their House colleagues in excluding from their bill commercial vehicles like trucks and buses, where automation could eliminate a significant number of jobs. Thune sounds skeptical. "That's what the Democrats want but at some point we have to address trucks," he told reporters, noting his committee had scheduled a hearing on the trucking issue for next week.

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America's dwindling executions

The Trump administration wants to reboot federal executions, pointing to a 16-year lapse, but Pew Research reports the government has only executed three people since 1963.

The big picture: Nearly all executions in the U.S. are done by states. Even those have been steadily dropping for two decades, per the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) — marking a downward trend for all executions in the country.

Top NSC official may be moved after "Anonymous" rumor fallout

President Trump at the Daytona 500. (Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Top Trump administration officials are in discussions to reassign deputy national security adviser Victoria Coates to the Department of Energy from the National Security Council, per two sources familiar with the planning.

Why it matters: Coates' working relationship with National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, who elevated her to the deputy role only months ago, has strained amid an effort by some people inside the administration to tag her as "Anonymous" — a charge she has vehemently denied to colleagues.

Jeff Bezos commits $10 billion for climate change research

Bezos at Amazon Smbhav in New Delhi on Jan. 15. Photo: Sajjad Hussain/AFP via Getty Images

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced the launch of his "Earth Fund" on Monday via Instagram to fund climate change research and awareness.

What he's saying: Bezos says he's initially committing $10 billion to fund "scientists, activists, and NGOS" that are working on environmental preservation and protection efforts.