Connect with us

Congress

Trump Pushes for Section 230 Revisions, While House Overrides Veto of Defense Bill, Sending It to GOP-led Senate

Published

on

Photo of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from February 2018 by Gage Skidmore used with permission

December 29, 2020 — On Sunday evening, President Donald Trump signed into law a major coronavirus stimulus package, barely avoiding a government shutdown before a Monday night deadline.

Trump has railed against the $900 billion coronavirus relief bill and the $1.4 trillion government funding bill since Congress approved it, demanding that stimulus relief checks for Americans amount to $2,000 and that foreign aid be cut out of the bill.

“I will sign the omnibus and Covid package with a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed,” Trump said in a statement released Sunday night.

In Sunday evening’s statement the President also said the Senate would soon begin work on ending legal protections for tech companies provided under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, and further, begin efforts to investigate voter fraud.

“Congress has promised that Section 230, which so unfairly benefits Big Tech at the expense of the American people, will be reviewed and either be terminated or substantially reformed,” said Trump.

The outgoing President has continued his ongoing feud with Section 230, the provision which allows social media platforms to moderate content on their web sites.

Although the current Congress is set to end in five days, the House and Senate are convening this week to override Trump’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act, the defense spending bill that the President barred citing its failure to include Section 230 revisions.

On Monday, the House voted 322-87 to overturn the President’s veto, without the inclusion of Section 230 language, and further, passed a measure to increase stimulus checks for Americans under a certain income level to $2,000 after Trump championed the effort, sending the defense spending bill to the Republican-led Senate where its future is less certain.

Democrats have seized on Trump’s complaint over the amount of the direct stimulus payments in a bid to push congressional Republicans to accept a higher figure. The move forces GOP lawmakers to decide whether or not to defy the president, after many have argued that the overall cost for a stimulus package should not rise too high.

While each of these events unfolded over Trump’s call to repeal Section 230, Congress is unlikely to embrace the President’s call to eliminate protections for social media companies. The President has argued without evidence that Section 230 enables websites to censor conservative views, but data shows that conservative personalities and publishers often thrive online.

While the concerns about Section 230 are bipartisan, it is highly unlikely that lawmakers could reach an agreement on the issue within the next week. Trump and his allies have yet to find substantial common ground with Democrats who primarily want changes addressing discriminatory advertising or terrorist content online.

Trump’s veto threats have seemingly only served to put his Republican allies in the House and Senate on the hot seat.

Congress

Congress Working to Enact Permitting Reforms for Broadband

‘Red tape really does have the possibility to kill project,’ argued a House subcommittee chief counsel.

Published

on

Photo of Kate O'Connor from LinkedIn.

WASHINGTON, November 2, 2022 – Congress is advancing a series of proposals to reform broadband permitting, which include the elimination of unnecessary historical and environmental reviews and streamlining the process to deploy broadband on federal lands, staffers from the House Energy and Commerce Committee said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a Fiber Broadband Association web event, Evan Viau, a staff member for the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, said the House is working to generally liberalize the permitting process for new deployments and upgrades to existing infrastructure as well.

“Red tape really does have the possibility to kill project,” argued Kate O’Connor, chief counsel for the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.

“$42 billion (from the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program) seems like a lot of money…but if we don’t change all of the processes that allow that $42 billion to actually get spent to deploy this infrastructure, it could all be wasted,” she added.

O’Connor called for an “all-hands approach” to permitting reform, saying the federal government should encourage such reforms at the state and local levels, as well.

In 2021, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act allocated $65 billion to broadband funding – America’s largest investment in connectivity to date. The IIJA followed the American Rescue Plan Act, passed earlier that year, which also provided money for broadband to the states.

Republicans plan to oversee federal agencies

In addition to permitting reform, agency oversight is a top priority of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R–Wash., ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, O’Connor said. In September, McMorris Rodgers warned Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel against acting beyond the statutory limits of the Commission’s authority.

And McMorris Rodgers isn’t the only high-ranking Republican with the oversight itch. In September, Rep. Glenn Thompson, R–Penn., ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, told Broadband Breakfast he would likely issue subpoenas to the FCC and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration following the agencies’ refusal to testify at a hearing.  

Should the GOP retake the house in the November midterms, McMorris Rodgers, Thompson, and other Republicans will be better positioned to take action against President Joe Biden’s executive agencies.

Continue Reading

Senate

National 6G Strategy Bill Passes Senate Commerce Committee

The Next Generation Telecommunications Act received bipartisan support.

Published

on

Photo of Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto by Senate Democrats, via Wikimedia

WASHINGTON, March 22, 2022 – Legislation that would create a council to advise Congress on 6G and other wireless technologies and how they may power smart cities on Tuesday passed the Senate’s Commerce, Science and Transportation committee with bipartisan support.

In addition to advising Congress on the state of technology in the telecommunications industry, the council would also develop a comprehensive, national telecom strategy, which will address topics related to technology, workforce demands and security.

The bill, Next Generation Telecommunications Act, S.3014,was introduced by Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., who said in a press release that the legislation is a key part of her state’s goal of being “on the cutting edge of new technologies.

“We’ve got to promote American competitiveness in these kind of cutting-edge technologies that we’re building in Nevada,” Cortze Masto said in a statement on the bill. “That means improving access to quality broadband, ensuring we have the necessary workforce, and putting in safeguards to make sure we protect emerging technologies.”

The council would be comprised of 15 members including the deputy secretary of Commerce, the assistant secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information, the undersecretary of the National Institute of Standards, the chairperson of the Federal Communications Commission, and the director of the National Science Foundation.

The council would also feature three members appointed by the majority leader of the Senate, two members appointed by the minority leader of the Senate, three members appointed by the Speaker of the House, and two members appointed by the minority leader of the House.

The bill has received notable bipartisan support: it is co-sponsored by two Republicans and two additional Democrats, including Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ben Luján, D-N.M.

“As China and other countries seek to exploit communications networks for surveillance and intellectual property theft, the U.S. needs a cohesive strategy for the safe deployment of next-generation wireless technologies,” said Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.

South Dakota senator and Senate Republican minority whip John Thune also came out in support of the bill. “This bill would allow the United States to continue competing on the global stage, and it would help prepare the United States to lead the way in deploying next-generation technology, including 6G. I’ll continue to work on bipartisan solutions that will increase innovation and bolster the private sector’s ability to compete in this emerging space.”

The bill must now get through a general vote in the Senate, at which point it will need to also pass the House.

Continue Reading

Senate

Gigi Sohn Nomination for FCC Advances Out of Commerce Committee on Party Lines

Nomination of Alvaro Bedoya to the FTC can also advance to the floor following a party-line vote.

Published

on

Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.

WASHINGTON, March 4, 2022 –  President Joe Biden’s nominee to the Federal Communications Commission Gigi Sohn saw her nomination advance out of the Senate Commerce Committee Thursday following a vote split along party lines.

Sohn, as well as Biden’s nominee to the Federal Trade Commission Alvaro Bedoya, did not receive the vote of a single Republican on the committee while receiving the support of all Democrats including more moderate senators such as Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., allowing for their nominations to advance to a full vote on the Senate floor.

Republican ranking member of the committee Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi stated that on the FCC Sohn would have the appearance of conflicts of interest related to her involvement in past legal battles and cited her past recusals on retransmission consent as problematic.

The controversy is related to Sohn’s involvement with nonprofit streaming service Locast which attempted to make local broadcast network content available to the public for free, sparking copyright lawsuits.

Wicker stated that Bedoya was too divisive and not unifying enough to serve on the FTC, a trend of partisanship that he says is new to the agency.

Strong Democratic support for both nominees makes their confirmations in the Senate seem quite plausible. Should all Republicans vote against the nominations, the approval of all Democratic senators will be required in the deadlocked Senate so that the vice president may break vote ties in the nominees’ favors.

Both the FCC and FTC remain split along party lines, and the confirmations of Sohn and Bedoya would give Democrats the upper hand at the agencies.

The nominations’ advancements out of committee earned praise from telecom industry groups such as think tank New America, the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, and intellectual property nonprofit Public Knowledge – the organization Sohn formerly headed.

Continue Reading

Signup for Broadband Breakfast

Get twice-weekly Breakfast Media news alerts.
* = required field

Broadband Breakfast Research Partner

Trending