WASHINGTON, DC – The House Energy and Commerce Committee today advanced two bipartisan pieces of legislation from the Communications and Technology Subcommittee that aim to improve Federal Communications Commission processes and improve federal spectrum use. The committee’s action today follows Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden’s (R-OR) announcement on Monday that bipartisan agreements had been reached on both pieces of legislation.
The committee today approved H.R. 3675, the Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act with an amendment in the nature of a substitute offered by Chairman Walden and Subcommittee Ranking Member Anna Eshoo (D-CA). The amendment represents a bipartisan compromise that presents the commission with a framework to bring additional transparency and predictability to the FCC. It also contains some statutory provisions including changes to the sunshine rules and a permanent exception to the Antideficiency Act for the federal Universal Service Fund.
“During my tenure as chairman of the subcommittee, reforming the Federal Communications Commission has been a focus of our legislative efforts,” added Walden. “Communications and technology represent a significant portion of our national economy and today’s action will help fuel the innovation and investment in the communications and technology sectors that continue to create American jobs.”
“The agreement reached by Chairman Walden and Ranking Member Eshoo is the culmination of months of work by members and staff to find common ground for an approach that will make the FCC a stronger, more accountable agency,” added full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). “I thank them both for their hard work and look forward to its expedient approval by the House and consideration in the Senate, where it will join its companion legislation, the unanimously approved FCC Consolidated Reporting Act.”
The committee also approved H.R. 3674, the Federal Spectrum Incentive Act, authored by Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Doris Matsui (D-CA), which creates a new path for government spectrum users to relinquish spectrum and receive a portion of net auction revenues instead of relocation costs. Guthrie and Matsui are co-chairs of the subcommittee’s bipartisan Federal Spectrum Working Group, which continues to examine how the federal government can use the nation’s airwaves more efficiently.
“I appreciate the committee’s swift action on this bill,” said Guthrie. “H.R. 3674 is essential to encourage additional spectrum, a vital component for the advancement of American innovation, to be made available for commercial use. It is encouraging to see a focus placed on this legislation and the underlying spectrum shortage.”