FCC Reauthorization Bill Referred to Full Committee

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The House Communications Subcommittee on Oct 11 marked up a bipartisan discussion draft of legislation reauthorizing the Federal Communications Commission and made short work of it, voting unanimously to refer the draft to the full House Commerce Committee and taking less than a half hour to do it. It will be the first reauthorization of the agency in more than 25 years. Reauthorization is a chance to legislate various changes in how the FCC does business, including process reforms and, in one particular instance broadcasters are following closely, how it repacks TV stations post-auction.

One reason for the smooth sailing is that some amendments will not be introduced until the full committee mark-up and the various provisions already in the draft include bills backed by Democratic Reps, including boosting public safety, wireless coverage data collection, cybersecurity, and bipartisan FCC process reform language that has twice passed the House. Rep Anna Eshoo's (D-CA) FCC Collaboration Act is also included, which would allow more than two commissioners to meet outside of public meetings so long as certain sunshine criteria are met. "I don’t know how many [times] I have introduced that in," Rep Eshoo said. "Maybe this is the magic year for that." Citing some of those provisions, Full Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ) said in his opening statement that the draft was "a good first start," but added, "We still have critical work to do before I can support reporting this bill out of the full committee." Rep Mike Doyle (D-PA) said the bill was a good-faith, bipartisan effort by the majority, but also said it needed improving. That mark-up is likely to be longer and more contentious.

FCC Reauthorization Bill Referred to Full Committee #SubCommTech to Markup FCC Reauthorization Bill (Initial Press Release)