The Capitol began processing a massive shift in the balance of power as Democrats prepare to take unified control of Congress. That means these key Democrats are primed to take the gavels on the committees overseeing technology and telecommunications issues, ranging from data privacy to 5G to antitrust:
The $900 billion coronavirus package and $1.4 trillion government funding deal are full of technology and telecommunications priorities that will help Americans stay connected amid a darkening pandemic and keep issues from antitrust to artificial intelligence policy front-and-center heading into 2021. Both the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice's antitrust division get a bump in funding.
Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr endorsed Simington’s nomination, saying he needs another Republican alongside him on the five-member commission come Inauguration Day to stymie Democrats in a deadlocked 2-2 FCC. “It’d be very valuable to get Simington across the finish line to help forestall what really would be billions of dollars worth of economic damage that I think a [Democratic] FCC would look to jam through from Day 1,” Commissioner Carr cautioned during an appearance on Fox Business.
Republican lawmakers vying for the prized ranking member role on the House Commerce Committee will make their case to the Republican Steering Committee, with a decision expected Dec 2.
With only a handful of days to go in 2020’s legislative session, rural telecom carriers are hoping Congress delivers the estimated $1.5 billion needed to remove the gear from China’s Huawei and ZTE still present in the networks of at least a few dozen of them. The Federal Communications Commission has already cut off access to telecom subsidies for small carriers using such equipment, which is deemed a threat to US national security. One likely potential source of this cash: Capitol Hill’s forthcoming package to fund the government beyond Dec. 11.
Eleven new lawmakers under the age of 45 were elected to the 117th Congress, joining other under-45s leading on tech issues, including Silicon Valley Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO). Here’s what to know about some of the newcomers’ views on and ties to tech:
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) “looks forward to voting for Nathan Simington,” President Trump’s nominee for the Federal Communications Commission, said her chief of staff Charles Flint, dispelling any concerns on where she stands. Sen Blackburn is a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, which still needs to vote to advance Simington’s nomination this year before he can be confirmed on the floor.
Broadband expansion is at the top of Biden’s telecom to-do list.