Quick Hits

*** Lawmakers are again pushing to expand paid family leave for federal employees.

The Federal Employee Paid Leave Act, introduced by Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.), would extend 12 weeks of paid family leave to federal employees. Currently, feds must use their standard leave for such family-related absences.

Federal unions praised the bill's introduction. "The Federal Employee Paid Leave Act recognizes both the value of federal employees and their families and the need for the federal government to present a positive example for private-sector employers," said J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees.

*** Georgetown University is standing up a new center focused on artificial intelligence that promises to be the largest of its kind in the United States. The Center for Security and Emerging Technology, funded by a $55 million grant from the Open Philanthropy Project, is headed by former Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity Director Jason Matheny.

The center will explore the policy and security implications of other technologies as well, but Matheny said in a launch announcement that AI "is a topic where the demand for policy analysis has grown much faster than the supply. Before CSET spreads out to other topics, we wanted to ensure we’re keeping pace with the needs of policymakers related to AI."

***A Lawfare podcast broke news March 3 when Luke Murray, national security advisor for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, told hosts that the National Security Agency had halted a controversial program for bulk collection of Americans' phone metadata records. After "technical irregularities" last year led to the illegal overcollection of records, the NSA purged all post-2015 call records. According to Murray, it hasn't been restarted since.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a longtime critic of U.S. surveillance overreach who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a public statement that "it's increasingly clear to me that implementation of reforms to the phone records dragnet has been fundamentally flawed." Wyden doesn't want to rely on the NSA to voluntarily shutter the surveillance program. He asked the Trump administration to permanently end it and for Congress to refuse to reauthorize when a number of Patriot Act provisions expire in December.

"The agency's admission last year that it vacuumed up over half a billion telephone records indicates that, despite the intent of Congress, bulk collection of phone records never really ended," Wyden said.