Name: Melissa Froelich
Hometown: Rocky River, Ohio
Position: Chief counsel for the Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Subcommittee of the House Energy & Commerce Committee.
Alma Mater: Ohio State University Law School
Washington Examiner: What is your portfolio at the committee?
Froelich: I work for the chairman for the Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection subcommittee. We have jurisdiction over the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection and their work in that space, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That is where one of our big initiatives came about, learning about how new firms and original equipment manufacturers were looking at self-driving technology and advanced safety technologies.
Washington Examiner: What is a major hurdle for the regulation of self-driving cars?
Froelich: If you want to sell a car in the U.S. you have to meet the federal motor vehicle standards that NHTSA puts in place. You are not allowed to sell a car if you don’t meet these safety standards today. There are a few that require steering wheels, brake pedals, different pieces of technology that make a lot of sense for traditional cars. Some regulations were on the books that won’t apply [to self-driving cars] because they require a steering wheel or a brake pedal, and self-driving cars may not have those in the future.
There are a lot of exciting things happening in making sure there is a path for getting good data as companies come to NHTSA and say we might not meet the safety standard, but here is why our solution is as safe as what is on the road today. They have to show the work, but at the same time we are not hamstringing them with regulations designed for a traditional car.
Washington Examiner: What legislation did you work on with this issue?
Froelich: We got to work on the Self-Drive Act. That passed out of the committee 54-0, which doesn’t happen every day. It was an exciting moment of bipartisanship and had that bill passed unanimously on suspension through the House.
Washington Examiner: I understand you are also working on the committee’s oversight actions into the Equifax breach?
Froelich: I am working with [Energy and Commerce Chairman] Rep. Greg Walden and [Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Bob] Latta to put together the hearings so that we can get answers for the American public on what happened. I think it is an important opportunity for [committee members] to get answers for their constituents. More likely than not that if you have a credit profile then you were impacted in the breach.
Washington Examiner: What do you like to do in your spare time?
Froelich: I spend all my extra time training for marathons. It has been a fun opportunity to travel around a bit and stay in touch with college friends. I was a Division I swimmer, and it is certainly a transition to not be training all the time.