Communications and Technology Subcommittee Outlines Key Legislative Priorities

February 6, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC -Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) recently outlined a 2012 agenda that focuses on job creation, innovation, good government, and protecting the American people. The agenda includes:

Promoting Good Government
The communications sector is increasingly a driver of our economy, yet poor Federal Communications Commission process can discourage companies from investing and hinder innovation. To bring greater transparency and predictability to the FCC's operations, and with an emphasis on practices that help the American public and regulated parties interact with the Commission, the committee will finalize its work, begun last year with a series of hearings and a subcommittee vote, on legislation to focus the agency on its core responsibilities and make certain its decision-making processes are consistent and open.

"The bill introduced last fall and voted out of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee in the fall along party lines would require the FCC to vote on a rule only after the final language of the rule was made available to the public. It would require the FCC to conduct cost benefit analyses of potential rules, establish time limits for consideration of acquisitions and prevent the FCC from imposing conditions on merger approvals that were outside of its legal authority." - Adweek

""˜Let's have a more open process,' Walden said, arguing that FCC documents are often not readily available for adequate public review. "˜It is the public's business after all.'" - CQ Today

Prioritizing Jobs and Stimulating Innovation
Spectrum auctions have been a promising part of Congress' latest and highest-profile debates, and as a Conference Committee meets to negotiate a yearlong package of payroll tax relief, spectrum is back on the table. The House-passed spectrum legislation known as the JOBS Act significantly expands the availability of much-needed wireless broadband, generates hundreds of thousands of jobs, helps build a public safety network, and produces nearly $17 billion for taxpayers. The JOBS Act is currently the best deal on the table for taxpayers.

"Walden said he believes it's likely that some version of the spectrum legislation will be included in the payroll tax package the House and Senate negotiators are trying to hammer out. The conference committee met for the first time Tuesday. "˜I would think given the need to pay for the various components of the [payroll] would cause a problem if it dropped out,' he said. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that Walden's spectrum legislation would generate $16.7 billion for deficit reduction compared with just $6.5 billion for the Senate bill, authored by Commerce Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D W.Va." - National Journal

Foiling Threats to Communications Networks
This spring, the subcommittee will resume an aggressive review of cybersecurity to ensure our policies address emerging threats of the 21st Century. Many Americans are familiar by now with the spyware and malware that affect personal computers. But most do not know about the cyberbattles that occur within the networks each day -the supply chain vulnerabilities, the man-in-the-middle attacks, the botnets, and the millions of hacking attempts that our cyberdefenses deflect. The subcommittee will focus on these and other threats to America's communications networks, and the response of the private sector to combat those threats.

"The hearing will focus on what the private and public sector are doing well and need to improve, both on their own and in coordination with each other. The topic is a top one for Chairman Greg Walden this year, and ranking member Rep. Anna Eshoo also requested a hearing on the issue. At a press briefing earlier this week, Walden hinted that cybersecurity would come up "˜sooner rather than later' on the schedule because he thinks "˜there is a real threat to commercial networks.'" - Politico, Morning Tech