Rep. Obernolte Questions Secretary Raimondo on Abuse of the DPA 


| June 28, 2024

Empty emergency box with breakable glass. Top view. 3d render

This week, Rep. Jay Obernolte (R-CA) grilled Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo about the Department’s invocation of the Defense Production Act (DPA) to create new reporting requirements to regulate AI in a Commerce budget hearing.  

Instead of defending the use of the DPA, Sec. Raimondo instead provided other examples of DPA use, like semiconductors, as to why it’s appropriate in the case of AI reporting.   

Rep. Obernolte: I specifically want to ask about your invocation of the Defense Production Act. As the authority to make these requirements. As you know, the DPA was intended to be used in times of wartime to secure our procurement supply chains for munitions. And we seem to be far afield from that. We have no declaration so wars. We’ve withdrawn from Afghanistan. And the producers that you’re proposing to apply this requirement to have nothing to do with our defense supply chain. So, how is the Defense Production Act an appropriate source of authority for the Department of Commerce to require this reporting? 

Sec. Raimondo: Yes, it’s not tanks and missiles, but today in the modern world, AI, semiconductors, data centers, satellites, you know, unmanned vehicles, drones, this is all technology.  

Sec. Raimondo ignores that the purpose of the DPA is to increase domestic production to combat a shortfall of critical defense articles. That is not what is happening here with the AI reporting requirements. The Biden administration’s invocation of the DPA makes no effort to increase AI production, and there is no shortfall to remedy. It’s not at all comparable to semiconductors which Raimondo references in her answer. 

Raimondo further insinuated that Commerce is using the DPA because Congress did not provide new tools and pleaded for more tools for the Bureau of Industry and Security. The lack of so-called “tools” does not give Commerce the regulatory authority to use the DPA to impose new reporting requirements on private businesses. That authority can only come from Congress.