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Representative DelBene discusses technology and government with Cascadia College students

Representative Susan DelBene at Mill Creek's Veterans Monument. Photo credit: Richard Van Winkle.
Representative Susan DelBene at Mill Creek's Veterans Monument in May. Photo credit: Richard Van Winkle.

From a Cascadia College news release.

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA) engaged Cascadia College students in a powerful discussion on the intersection of federal government and technology the week of December 12, 2016.

This class meeting was the culminating experience for students enrolled in a fall humanities course titled “Technology, Culture, and Innovation” taught by David Ortiz.

Representative DelBene, who had a career in biotech and technology entrepreneurship prior to being elected to office, discussed the joys and frustrations of championing technology legislation in the House of Representatives.

She shared her excitement about new technologies being developed in King and Snohomish counties that are helping to advance agriculture, manufacturing, and medicine but also acknowledged that moving technology-related legislation through Congress can be difficult.

“There is a lot of competition for funding, and congresspeople tend to want to see quick returns on their investments,” Representative DelBene explained. “Technological breakthroughs don’t happen quickly. It can take 10-15 years to start to see the pay-offs.”

In response to a student question about whether congressional inaction on technology is due to partisanship, Representative DelBene said, “Technology itself is not really partisan but it has an impact on some challenging issues” that Congress is grappling with.

As an example, she went on to cite the debate on information privacy and encryption technology that arose over a Department of Justice request to have Apple unlock an iPhone belonging to the San Bernardino shooter.

Representative DelBene suggested partisanship might play a role in budget gridlock, however. Recently, in order to avoid shutdowns, the federal government has been funded in 60-90 day installations through continuing resolutions.

She expressed the challenges in this method of budgeting, “When we’re operating this way, we’re not able to end anything that’s not working and we don’t invest in anything new.”

The current continuing resolution will keep the government open through April 28, 2017.

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