Bill to Help Bring FCC into the 21st Century Addresses Committee Concerns with Agency Appropriations
WASHINGTON, DC – House Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) today released a draft bill to reauthorize the Federal Communications Commission. The legislation, released ahead of the subcommittee’s Thursday hearing with all five FCC commissioners, would reauthorize the agency for the first time in nearly 25 years.
“After a quarter century, it’s time for another reauthorization. If we have learned anything during our #CommActUpdate process, it’s that communications and technology issues demand a 21st century regulator as much as they need 21st century policies. With this reauthorization, we are charting the course to make the necessary reforms to an agency that is ill equipped for the innovation era,” said Walden.
He continued, “This bill addresses the commission’s disproportionate FY 2016 budget request, the runaway growth in the Universal Service Fund, and ensures that the FCC’s Inspector General can conduct oversight of the commission without fear of reprisal from a chairman. The public interest is always better served when government watchdogs can operate independently. I look forward to a spirited discussion with my colleagues and the FCC’s five current commissioners on Thursday.”
The draft legislation would:
- Authorize Federal Communications Commission appropriations at the current level for the next four fiscal years.
- Authorize appropriations to the commission for spectrum auction expenses at the current level through 2022 – the last year of existing FCC auction authority.
- Authorize $9 billion per year in appropriations — to be offset by fund contributions — for the support of Universal Service programs. This would cap the Federal Universal Service Fund at $9 billion per year, limiting the growth in the fund, and thus the amount of money the FCC extracts from consumers each year.
- Authorize the commission to make changes to its schedule of fees to reflect changes in the composition of the commission’s work and the rate of inflation.
- Create an independent Inspector General at the FCC, removing the ability of the Chairman to hire or fire the Inspector General.
To learn more about the Communications and Technology Subcommittee’s March 19 hearing on “FCC Reauthorization: Oversight of the Commission,” click here.