ESTABLISHING SAFEGUARDS FOR ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
— U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Josh Hawley (R-MO), Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law, announced a bipartisan legislative framework to establish guardrails for artificial intelligence. The framework lays out specific principles for upcoming legislative efforts, including the establishment of an independent oversight body, ensuring legal accountability for harms, defending national security, promoting transparency, and protecting consumers and kids. The announcement follows multiple hearings in the Subcommittee featuring witness testimony from industry and academic leaders, including OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, Anthropic CEO Dario Amodei, and Microsoft President and Vice Chair Brad Smith who will testify before the Subcommittee on Tuesday.
“This bipartisan framework is a milestone—the first tough, comprehensive legislative blueprint for real, enforceable AI protections. It should put us on a path to addressing the promise and peril AI portends,” said Blumenthal. “We’ll continue hearings with industry leaders and experts, as well as other conversations and fact finding to build a coalition of support for legislation. License requirements, clear AI identification, accountability, transparency, and strong protections for consumers and kids—such common sense principles are a solid starting point.”
— Blumenthal and Hawley also announced they will convene a hearing on Tuesday, September 12, 2023 at 2:30 PM titled “Oversight of AI: Legislating on Artificial Intelligence.” The Subcommittee’s third AI-focused hearing will feature witness testimony from Microsoft Vice Chair and President Brad Smith, NVIDIA Chief Scientist and Senior Vice President William Daly, and Boston University School of Law Professor Woodrow Hartzog.
“Top industry executives and leading experts will help us shape legislation to protect against AI harms,” said Blumenthal. “As we move forward with a framework for sensible guardrails, we need a full and fair airing of the dangers as well as tremendous promise that AI portends.”
PROTECTING COLLEGE ATHLETES
— Blumenthal highlighted a bipartisan discussion draft of legislation to reform college athletics, which he is working on with U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Cory Booker (D-NJ). The College Athletes Protection & Compensation Act would set national standards for name, image, and likeness (NIL), establish a Medical Trust Fund to provide care to injured athletes, prioritize athletes’ educational outcomes, and safeguard athletes’ health and wellness.
With student-athletes now able to benefit from NIL and states responding with a patchwork of rules and regulations, the bipartisan framework would set national standards to give athletes the economic and educational opportunities they deserve.
FIGHTING RARE DISEASES
— Blumenthal announced $2 million in federal funding for Cure Rare Disease, a non-profit that develops lifesaving genetic medicines for patients with rare diseases, to fund ongoing renovations of a new laboratory in Woodbridge.
Cure Rare Disease was founded in 2017 by Richard Horgan to develop a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy for his brother who has been battling the disease since childhood. The $2 million in federal funding will be used to renovate a laboratory that will eventually employ 30-50 research scientists to develop treatments for rare diseases. The Woodbridge laboratory will replace the company’s current facility in Boston.
PROTECTING CONSUMERS FROM PREDATORY, HIGH COST LENDING
— Blumenthal joined U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) in introducing the Protecting Consumers from Unreasonable Credit Rates Act, legislation that would cap fees and interest on consumer loans at an Annual Percentage Rate (APR) of 36 percent—the same limit currently in place for loans marketed to military service members and their families. Studies show that while lenders today offer easy credit, these transactions often come with high interest rates, steep late fees, and other hidden charges. This predatory business model exploits hard-working Americans, trapping them in long-term debt cycles that drain bank accounts and cause serious, long-term financial harm.
“Consumers should be able to access affordable loans without taking on crushing debt,” said Blumenthal. “This legislation is commonsense—targeting the exorbitant fees and interest rates levied against families and their mortgage, credit card, and car payments. Americans deserve these protections against predatory, profiteering lenders.”
SUPPORTING OUR ALLIES IN UKRAINE
— As U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits Ukraine, Blumenthal called for Congress to pass a supplemental security package.
“As was clear in my own recent Kyiv visit, the arms committed by Sec. Blinken are critical to continuing Ukraine’s steady success in combat, both east & south. Congress now must do its job in approving $24 billion in supplemental aid.”
“The air raid sirens that marked Sec. Blinken’s visit—& that I heard just 2 weeks ago—show the everyday danger & destruction endured by Ukrainians & the critical need for more air defense as well as F-16 aircraft, artillery, munitions, armored vehicles, drones, etc.”
STOPPING THE SPREAD OF THE INVASIVE LANTERNFLY
— Blumenthal called on Congress to pass the Spotted Lanternfly Research and Development Act, new legislation to stop the spread of the Spotted Lanternfly, an invasive species that poses a significant threat to the environment and our state’s agricultural economy.
“We must stop the spread of the Spotted Laternfly before it wreaks havoc on our state’s ecosystems & agriculture. I’m proud to support legislation to make grants available for critical research to mitigate the proliferation of this invasive species.”
The Spotted Lanternfly Research and Development Act designates the Spotted Lanternfly as a high-priority research and extension initiative under the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. This designation authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to make competitive grants available for research projects related to the mitigation of this invasive species to find creative solutions to stop the spread before Connecticut’s crops and trees species are further decimated.
Spotted Lanternflies, which are native to Asia and were first found in Connecticut in 2018, have destroyed crops and trees in the Northeast — putting our local farmers, winemakers, and brewers at serious risk.
— Blumenthal attended the Goshen Fair, Bridgewater Tractor Parade, Odyssey Festival, and Newtown Labor Day Parade.
“At the Goshen Fair with Jane & her Dad, & their prize winning steer. Something for everyone here—fair food, music, farm exhibits, wine tasting & much more. Folks from all over are loving it.”
“Bridgewater’s Annual Tractor Parade is a unique, heartwarming celebration of community, with the incomparable honor of driving a tractor every year. Rain or shine (this year was all shine) it’s a spectacular show of tractors, floats, great food, music, & wonderful people.”
“Odyssey Festival at St. Barbara’s Church in Orange celebrated Greek heritage, culture, & faith—unimaginably great food, entertainment & people.”
“Newtown’s annual Labor Day Parade celebrated again the dignity of work & dedication of American workers—with exuberance & excitement to mark the end of summer. Thanks for this immensely inspiring organizational triumph.”
— Blumenthal reacted to the passing of Hartford Police Officer Bobby Garten.
“Officer Bobby Garten answered the call late last night to protect public safety & made the ultimate sacrifice. My prayers are with his family & the entire Hartford Police Department on this tragic day.”