By TONY ROMM
Part of a POLITICO Pro Special Report series on the Obama administration’s executive action and regulatory agenda.
The partisan squabbling on Capitol Hill often precludes lawmakers from acting as quickly as the speedy iPhones and self-driving cars that they’re supposed to help regulate.
It has also paved a digital fast lane of sorts for President Barack Obama.
Some of the most pressing technology issues in Washington — from the security of the country’s networks to the way government handles patents or hires tech experts — are being adjudicated predominately by the White House, an unavoidable go-it-alone approach in debates that matter to tech giants in Silicon Valley and profit-makers on Wall Street.
Obama specifically set that tone in his State of the Union address, emphasizing he wouldn’t wait on Congress across a broad spectrum of issues — patents and broadband connectivity included. But Obama’s second-term mix of executive actions, policy directives and private-sector collaborations could fall short of what Capitol Hill would be able to do if both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue worked together.
That struggle is most apparent in cybersecurity, for which the president issued an executive order almost one year ago that has the government and industry collaborating on new, voluntary standards. Obama only gave it five words of attention in his speech Tuesday, when he stressed the need to “combat new threats like cyberattacks.” But his administration still has been inching closer to new standards — and possibly new regulations.