Three Senate Democrats outlined their tech priorities for this year at the CES 2023 technology conference in Las Vegas on Jan. 6, with cybersecurity and investments in tech advancements topping that list.

In the new Congress, Sens. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., and Mark Warner, D-Va., said they are particularly focused on advancing cybersecurity in the health care sector.

“Unless and until we can make sure that cyber protections are actually built in the development of healthcare systems, rather than bolted on, I don’t think we’re going to get this right,” Sen. Warner said. “If you look just at the number of entities in the Federal government that touch health care around cyber, it is a complete spaghetti mess.”

Sen. Rosen said she is working on legislation with Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., to strengthen the cybersecurity of the nation’s health care.

As for tech advancements, Sen. Warner, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the United States is in need of Federal investments to remain a leader in the global technology competition.

Specifically, the chairman said the United States may need investments to look at other domains such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, advanced engineering, and synthetic biology. However, he said the format of those investments may look different from the Chips and Science Act approved by Congress last year.

Sen. Luján also noted the importance of investing in Federal government national laboratories, which he said are already doing great research in areas such as quantum computing and AI.

“Let’s push the labs and let’s incentivize them more to make sure that there are more licenses, more smart people doing incredible work,” he said. “I get excited about this and will push them to help be solutions-oriented in this space.”

While much of the lawmakers’ discussion centered around cybersecurity and tech advancements, Sen. Luján added that closing the digital divide is another top priority of his.

“In the area of the digital divide, there’s this incredible investment opportunity across America right now,” Sen. Luján said. “But we’re going to have to work together. We’re going to have to look closely at where those dollars need to go to truly connect the entirety of America.”

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.