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E&C Democrats Urge FCC to Allow Local Governments Adequate Time to Respond to Wireless Equipment Rule Changes Amid COVID-19 Response

Jun 2, 2020
Press Release
Request Comes as Local Governments are Focused on Combatting COVID-19

Washington, D.C. – Twenty-four Democratic Members of the Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter today to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai urging him to delay a vote on a Declaratory Ruling that would limit local governments‘ role in the deployment of wireless infrastructure.  The Declaratory Ruling would grant companies the right to expand existing cell sites without any regard to local processes and potential conflicting priorities, which would be especially harmful right now given the ongoing challenges that local governments face due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The FCC is currently scheduled to vote on the Declaratory Ruling on June 9.   

“We are especially troubled by the burden responding to this Declaratory Ruling will place on local governments that are rightfully focused right now on combatting the ongoing coronavirus pandemic,” the Members wrote.  “Likewise, we worry that if this Declaratory Ruling does not benefit from meaningful input from local governments, the result could undermine municipalities’ ability to balance their responsibilities to public safety and community design with their desire to ensure access to affordable wireless networks and the next generation services.”

This letter follows an April request by Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and other House Committee Chairs calling for immediately extending public comment deadlines across the federal government in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We believe such a delay is further warranted as local public servants and elected officials are filling the void left by their federal counterparts.  These local officials cannot be expected to conduct a meaningful review and respond to an item of this nature within the very limited time provided by the FCC” the Members continued.  “If local governments are forced to respond to this Declaratory Ruling instead of focusing on their public health and safety responses, it very well may put Americans health and safety at risk.” 

The letter was signed by Pallone, Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-PA), Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), Rep Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA), Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL), Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY), Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA), Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA), Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Rep. Marc Veasey (D-TX), Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL), Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-VA), Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) and Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL).

To read the letter, click HERE.