- - Tuesday, November 8, 2016


It’s become common practice that federal oversight and regulation emerge following innovation and — more often than not — these regulations can’t keep pace with the technological advances being reached in the private sector. The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade has spent this Congress exploring ways to foster innovation and growth, while preserving consumer protection and limited government.

The Subcommittee has oversight jurisdiction of agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Product Safety Commission that by nature want to create more regulations and borders for businesses. While it is important for the subcommittee to be aware of what is happening within industry, it is critical that the government prioritize flexible solutions that allow for future innovation. For example, companies employing the e-sharing business model — Uber, Lyft, ThumbTack and others — have thrived under this model of hands-off government.

Throughout this Congress, the Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee has adopted a “think tank” approach, serving as a forum for experts to provide thoughtful insights and ideas on specific economic developments, such as the fast-evolving impacts of drone use on consumer business or how the technological advancement in 3D printing have already begun revitalizing the manufacturing industry.

Over the last year, the subcommittee has been exploring new, emerging technologies, which have the potential to disrupt a whole host of industries, through a series of hearings, dubbed most appropriately as the “Disrupters Series.” Each technology has been examined under the lens of balancing oversight without bogging down industry with federal overregulation.

It has historically been the first instinct of many lawmakers to begin slapping the red tape on new and unfamiliar technologies. Yet, our economy is already benefiting from the current crop of applications in a variety of industries.

If we begin applying federal bureaucracy to the innovative work that the private sector is rapidly producing, we risk stifling our country’s growth. And it won’t take long before we are relying on other countries for their technological advancements and insight.

In order for American entrepreneurs to thrive, the government must step out of the way. Burdensome regulations handed down by federal government agencies often slow hiring and hurt the bottom line of many small businesses.

The phenomenon of 3D printing is enabling a small auto supply business back home in my district to get the job done more efficiently. Painless Performance, in Texas’ 26th Congressional District, now uses a 3D printing prototype service to produce custom wiring harnesses for classic cars. By putting the technology to practice, Painless Performance is speeding up the development process.

In health care, these innovative technologies are permitting American patients to do things we could never have dreamed of when I was in medical school. Health apps are allowing patients to track their symptoms, send vital sign information to doctors, and set up medication adherence reminders — all from the palm of their hand.

American consumers can benefit greatly from these new and emerging technologies, if we just let them. Thanks to the members of the committee and Vice Chairman Leonard Lance of New Jersey, we have been able to elevate the very important work that the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade has been doing this Congress. As technological advances get greater and more powerful, it will be critical to keep this momentum going as we look toward the 115th Congress.

Michael C. Burgess, Texas Republican, is the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade.

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