Federal Communications Commission Process Reform (H.R. 3309 and H.R. 3310)

May 30, 2012

The communications and technology sector is a major economic driver, creating jobs and fostering innovation at a time when other sectors are still lagging. Federal regulation of these industries should foster an environment of confidence and certainty to encourage the continued creation of high-paying jobs and new technologies.

The Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act, H.R. 3309, is a good-government bill that aims to improve the way the FCC operates by improving transparency, predictability, and consistency.

The bill adopts a key recommendation from both President Obama and his Jobs Council—the principle that independent agencies should conduct a cost–benefit analysis before adopting new rules.

The bill also requires the FCC to establish a "shot clock" establishing how long the commission's decisions will take so job creators know when to expect action on certain proceedings.

H.R. 3309 prevents the FCC from overreaching beyond its authority and imposing conditions on mergers—such as so-called “network neutrality” obligations—that would otherwise be outside the commission’s jurisdiction. It also requires any conditions to be related to a merger-specific harm.

H.R. 3309 increases transparency in the rulemaking process by requiring the FCC to survey the marketplace through a notice of inquiry before proposing new rules that would increase costs for consumers and businesses and to publish the specific text of proposed rules, so the public and industry know what is being considered and have adequate information to provide input.

This bill is part of House Republicans’ efforts to ensure independent agencies’ work encourages job creation, investment, and innovation.

The House approved H.R 3309 with bipartisan support on March 27, 2012, by vote of 247-174.

As part of the committee’s FCC reform package, the House also approved the FCC Consolidating Reporting Act, H.R. 3310, which consolidates the reporting obligations of the FCC to improve transparency and oversight while reducing regulatory burdens.

The House approved H.R. 3310 without any recorded opposition by the House on May 30, 2012.

Taken together, these bills aim to improve the transparency and consistency of FCC operations.