As Tennessee voters head to the polls, Senate candidate Phil Bredesen (D) is taking aim at Rep Marsha Blackburn’s legacy on broadband. In a recent campaign ad, former-Gov Bredesen calls out the House Telecommunications Subcommittee chair for having “voted against $600 million in broadband initiatives.” At issue: Blackburn’s March 2018 vote against the sprawling omnibus government funding bill that contained a series of committee-negotiated tech legislation central to Blackburn’s panel.
Congress is angling to impose some training wheels on the Trump administration when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars on broadband deployment. Lawmakers are eyeing the reconciliation process for the farm bill as a way to check the Agriculture Department, which manages various telecom subsidies through its Rural Utilities Service (RUS). “Appropriate guidance in the farm bill being reconciled and the department’s continued vigilance are critical to avoiding another boondoggle,” said a Senate GOP aide, referring to past alleged waste in the program.
I rise today to talk about the truth, and its relationship to democracy. For without truth, and a principled fidelity to truth and to shared facts, our democracy will not last. 2017 was a year which saw the truth – objective, empirical, evidence-based truth -- more battered and abused than any other in the history of our country, at the hands of the most powerful figure in our government. It was a year which saw the White House enshrine “alternative facts” into the American lexicon, as justification for what used to be known simply as good old-fashioned falsehoods.
The National Hispanic Media Coalition, Color of Change, NAACP and the Benton Foundation are among the organizations concerned about proposed changes to the Lifeline program, which is on the docket for the Federal Communications Commission’s upcoming open meeting. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai -- who has long called for reforms to deter waste, fraud and abuse in Lifeline -- is seeking a vote at the agency’s Nov. 16 meeting on a major overhaul of the program, which subsidizes phone and broadband service for the poor.
President Joe Biden is expected to nominate Jessica Rosenworcel, the acting chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission, to the permanent job, putting her on track to become the first woman to lead the agency. If she is confirmed by the Senate, Rosenworcel would lead an agency whose responsibilities include ensuring that millions of Americans have internet access. President Biden is also expected to nominate progressive net neutrality advocate Gigi Sohn, a former FCC official, to the open Democratic seat on the commission.
Sen Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) tore into Facebook, calling the company’s stated attitudes on regulation a sham. “What we are hearing from Facebook is platitudes and bromides," Blumenthal stated. "When it says it wants regulation, at the same time it is fighting that regulation tooth and nail, day and night, with armies of lawyers, millions of dollars in lobbying.
Facebook says it does not take the political winds of Washington (DC) into account when deciding what posts to take down or products to launch. But a trove of internal documents shows that Facebook’s own employees are concerned that the company does just that — and that its DC-based policy office is deeply involved in these calls at a level not previously reported.
As Democrats attempt to shrink their social spending plan by hundreds of billions of dollars in order to reach consensus between moderates and progressives, the fate of several of its tech provisions hangs in the balance. House Democrats included a boatload of technology and telecommunications cash in the original $3.5 trillion version of their spending package, which the party is planning to pass without GOP support under a process called reconciliation.