WASHINGTON, March 2, 2010 – The House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology postponed last-minute a vote scheduled for Wednesday morning on a resolution that would reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order.
Chairman Fred Upton agreed to postpone the vote in order to complete regular order and a legislative hearing before voting on the resolution. As of Wednesday afternoon, Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) had not yet rescheduled the vote.
The House Joint Resolution, if passed, would reverse the FCC’s controversial Internet regulations. The resolution states that Congress disapproves of the FCC’s intent to preserve the open Internet and broadband industry practices and that such rules will have no force or effect. A seldom-used maneuver, the Resolution of Disapproval requires passage by both the House and Senate, as well as the President.
Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), ranking rember of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, requested the subcommittee hold a legislative hearing before convening a markup of the bill. Reps. Waxman and Eshoo sent a letter Tuesday to Rep. Upton and subcommittee Chairman Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), requesting regular order in the subcommittee’s consideration of the resolution.
“I’m pleased the Chairman has agreed to my request for regular order and a hearing,” said Eshoo through a statement released Wednesday. “The open Internet is a vital part of our economy, and millions of jobs have been created along with thousands of new, innovative businesses because of it. Members need to hear from the job-creating businesses that rely on the Internet’s openness, before any vote to eliminate the rules which protect it.”
In their letter, Waxman and Eshoo argue that the economy’s best interest lies in promoting an open Internet order because “common sense baseline rules [are] critical to ensuring that the Internet remains a key engine of economic growth, innovation, and global competitiveness.”
For their part, the Energy and Commerce Republicans welcomed further debate on the matter.
“After hearing directly from the FCC commissioners and in light of a strong House vote to halt these regulations in their tracks, a clear case has been made for advancing the resolution of disapproval,” said Debbee Keller, Press Secretary for Energy and Commerce Republicans said Wednesday afternoon. “The minority has requested another hearing on these issues, and we welcome the opportunity to shine additional light on the consequences of these regulations for job creators and American innovation.”
House Democrats Fight Against Anti-Crypto Measures in Senate-Passed Infrastructure Bill
August 20, 2021 – Pro-crypto House Democrats pushed back against the Senate Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s inclusion of crypto regulatory language, seeking to make it less broad.
The additions of cryptocurrency taxes aim to generate revenue to pay for part of the infrastructure spending. Its authors intended to reduce fraud in reports to the IRS.
Democratic California Reps. Ro Khanna, Eric Swalwell, and Anna Eshoo joined cryptocurrency enthusiasts Rep. Bill Foster, D-Illinois, and Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., in urging to amend the infrastructure bill in the House.
In a letter released on August 12, Eshoo advocated to Pelosi that the House should “amend the problematic broker definition,” describing the existing language as “imposing unworkable regulations.”
But there is some feeling that amendments to the bill in the House may not be necessary. According to a Treasury Department official, the agency plans to clarify its definition of a “broker” to be more specific.
Any amendments to the House would force the infrastructure measure back to the Senate.
Senators Reintroduce Bipartisan Digital Equity Act
Sen. Murray re-introduces bi-partisan that would provide grants to states pushing for digital equity.
June 14, 2021– Three Senators have introduced legislation that would provide grants to states that create digital equity plans.
The proposed legislation, reintroduced on Thursday by Patty Murray, D-Washington, Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Angus King, I-Maine, would set-aside $60 million to establish a State Digital Equity Capacity Grant within the Department of Commerce that would “promote the achievement of digital equity, support digital inclusion activities, and build capacity for efforts by States relating to the adoption of broadband by residents of those States.”
The funds from the Digital Equity Act in the Senate would be made available to all states, foundations, corporations, institutions, or agencies. The bill was first introduced by Murray in 2019.
Each state will receive a different grant amount depending on a formula that includes population and access to broadband across the state, to be spent within 5 years of receipt.
In addition to funding for states, the bill creates a $125-million Digital Equity Competitive Grant Program. This program is also for state agencies and institutions but is more specifically geared toward those that are responsible for “adult education and literacy activities.”
A final pillar of the bill is to create more infrastructure and resources for future development of policies that will continue to promote a bridging of the digital divide.
During a press conference on the bill, Murray told the Broadband Breakfast that she believes the bill will be successful because it gives states and local communities the ability to decide what their needs are. “We cannot dictate that in D.C.,” she remarked.
When asked why the bill will create more permanent solutions, she stated that it, “Provides for the diversity of needs that are going to continue to be out there.”
The senators co-sponsoring the bill said they are confident it will make its way into any infrastructure legislation passed by Congress.
Senate Committee Hears High Symmetrical Internet Speeds, Up-To-Date Technologies For Future Of Rural America
NTCA’s Shirley Bloomfield on driving improvements for rural broadband.
May 19, 2021– The head of the NTCA — Rural Broadband Association told a Senate Finance Committee that there are a number of improvements that can be made to broadband services and infrastructure for rural Americans, including higher symmetrical internet speeds, up-to-date network technologies, and better coordination of government funding to avoid overbuilding.
Shirley Bloomfield provided six different types of actions at Tuesday’s hearing that the government should take to improve broadband coverage in rural markets.
Bloomfield’s first suggestion was to build networks to last. She argued that building networks that provide insufficient speeds or utilize technology that is already outdated will not be sufficient to address the broadband needs of the future generation. During her testimony, Bloomfield specifically voiced support for 100 Mbps symmetrical service.
“We have a once in a generation opportunity—on the investment side—to do this right—to aim higher and to do better,” she said.
Her second suggestion was to take steps to limit overbuilding. To do this, she suggested that state and local governments coordinate with existing programs that provide mapping and funding for broadband projects. She clarified during her testimony that those without broadband service need to be prioritized before those with insufficient broadband service. She argued that the best way to do this would be ensuring that there is coordination with federal and state regulatory bodies with access to mapping data.
Bloomfield’s third suggestion was that network maintenance must be prioritized, and that modern networks will only stay modern and efficient if they are kept working and up to date.
Bloomfield also recommended clearer standards for broadband providers and that un(der)served rural communities should not be treated as “test labs” for new technologies. She stated that technologies should not be deployed until they have been sufficiently tested and established as viable strategies to serve communities in need of broadband. This includes not just the current needs of the communities in question, but also the projected needs of future generations.
Her sixth recommendation was to encourage consumers to look for local ISPs to provide broadband service. She noted that these smaller, local ISPs have cultivated relationships with the communities they serve, and those who work for the ISP often live among those they serve. She stated that it is this intimate connection that has allowed them to navigate the unique issues that these rural communities face.
Finally, Bloomfield encouraged the Committee to push for lower barriers to entry for broadband expansion projects, stating that bureaucracy and costs associated with many projects are simply too high. She also stated that a concerted effort must be made to sure-up supply chain issues that are currently applying significant pressure to ISPs and hampering expansion.
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- Topic 2 at Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021: Last Mile Digital Infrastructure
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