Bennet, Sasse Seek to Strengthen U.S. Tech Leadership in Annual Defense Spending Bill

Bipartisan Amendments Would Bolster U.S. Tech Competitiveness Rooted in Democratic Values

Washington, D.C. – Today, Senate Intelligence Committee Members Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) announced a package of bipartisan amendments they have introduced to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to bolster U.S. competitiveness in key emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI). Two of these amendments promote U.S. technology leadership rooted in a commitment to democratic values such as privacy and civil rights, which is especially vital as authoritarian competitors like China increasingly use technology to surveil and oppress people within and beyond their borders. Bennet and Sasse originally introduced these amendments to the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act in May 2021.

“America’s technology leadership gave democracy a crucial advantage against authoritarianism in the 20th century, but we are losing ground in the 21st,” said Bennet. “China is not waiting for us to get our house in order. They’re playing to win, and they’re using technology to entrench their surveillance state. The question for us is whether we’re content to be collateral damage, or whether we will offer the world a compelling model of technology leadership rooted in our democratic values.”

"We’re in a digital-age tech race with China — but a whole bunch of Washington acts like flip phones are the future. We gotta get better and start taking competition from Chairman Xi’s Communist Party much more seriously. That means we need to be leading in emerging technologies, investing in human capital, and building a smart, long-term strategy that allows American ingenuity to win this fight. This legislation is part of that hard work," said Sasse.

  • Technology Strategy for the Intelligence Community. This bipartisan provision of the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022, offered as an amendment to the NDAA, requires the Director of National Intelligence to develop a Technology Strategy to identify emerging technologies with serious implications for U.S. security and competitiveness, and articulate a coherent approach to ensure U.S. leadership in these areas.
  • Technology Competitiveness Council. This bipartisan amendment would establish a single, high-level entity chaired by the Vice President that would be responsible for over-the-horizon planning and promoting U.S. leadership across the scientific, economic, and security aspects of other emerging technologies. 
  • National Digital Reserve Corps. This amendment, which is led by Bennet, would create a National Digital Reserve Corps, administered by the General Services Administration, to allow tech-savvy workers from the private sector to work as short-term advisors for the federal government. 
  • AI Task Force. This bipartisan amendment would create a cabinet-level AI Task Force to conduct a top to bottom assessment of the federal government’s policies, procedures, and uses with respect to AI to ensure they align with our democratic values. The AI Task Force would also provide specific recommendations to promote greater alignment between existing federal policies and practices with respect to AI and democratic values.
  • Emerging Tech Leads. This bipartisan amendment would direct most federal agencies, including the Departments of Defense, Justice, Commerce, and Health and Human Services, along with the IC, to designate a senior, full-time employee to advise on the responsible uses of emerging technologies, such as AI.

Bennet is a leading advocate for strengthening U.S. technology competitiveness. The $65 billion in new broadband funding in the newly signed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act draws directly from Bennet’s bipartisan BRIDGE Act and represents the largest broadband investment in U.S. history and will be crucial to the nation’s competitiveness in 5G. Last month, Bennet provided keynote remarks at the Center for New American Security about the need to create a National Technology Strategy. Over the summer, he secured a provision to create a National Technology Strategy in the Intelligence Authorization Act that passed out of the Senate Intelligence Committee in a 16-0 vote. Last June, Bennet wrote to the Trump administration criticizing its inadequate strategy for securing American leadership in AI.