This morning, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) ran yet another article, claiming that stakeholders in Congress are close to a final data privacy bill. Be that as it may, this is not the first time stakeholders have said positive things in public. However, nice sentiments do not legislation make, and the closer the mid-term elections get, the more the incentives for the minority party to work constructively becomes as they almost always gain seats and often take control of the Congress. This happened in 2018, 2010, and 1994. Republicans may calculate they will have more leverage next year if they control the House and Senate, meaning only Senate Democrats and the White House need to be appeased. That being said, many an incumbent President has run against an opposition Congress by marking out positions designed more to appeal to his likely voters than get to final legislation. It is entirely possible President Joe Biden will accept nothing less than a U.S. data protection law to satisfy the toughest of data privacy advocates. Incidentally, in doing so, he would be sparing some Democrats from California the potentially difficult choice of disappointing their constituents or the large companies headquartered in the state.
As mentioned, this is not the first article recently lauding the progress made in Congress. In late March, the WSJ ran an article asserting that “aides to senior Democrats and Republicans on both the House and Senate Commerce committees are planning to meet as early as next week in an effort to reach consensus on how legislation might be pieced together” “according to people familiar with the matter.” These talks were apparently fruitful, for some of the staff negotiating a deal sounded very positive notes in public.
Two weeks ago, at the recent IAPP Global Privacy Summit in Washington DC, John Beezer, a senior adviser to Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA), said Senate offices have been in serious bipartisan talks for six months. Beezer asserted that with respect to federal preemption and a private right of action, the two sticking points commonly believed to be holding up a bill, “I'm not going to say those things are resolved, but I would say they're substantially less of an obstacle than they used to be, from my perspective.”