House Passes Two Bills, Lawmakers Concerned about ReConnect, Elon Musk on Twitter’s Board

The House passed bills about spectrum coordination and the FCC collecting maternal mortality and morbidity data.

House Passes Two Bills, Lawmakers Concerned about ReConnect, Elon Musk on Twitter’s Board
Photo of Elon Musk in 2019, by Steve Jurvetson

WASHINGTON, April 6, 2022 – The House of Representatives passed two bills Tuesday to incorporate maternity health concerns into broadband mapping and to improve coordination with spectrum, according to a press release.

The first bill, named the Data Mapping to Save Moms’ Lives Act, will “incorporate maternal mortality and morbidity data into the Federal Communication Commission’s health mapping platform to better understand how access to broadband can improve our country’s response to maternal challenges.”

The second bill, called the Spectrum Coordination Act, will require the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the FCC to revamp and improve their efforts overseeing the use of the airwaves.

Both of these bills passed the Energy and Commerce Committee in November of last year, and now must go through the Senate.

“We’re proud of the work that went into these bills and look forward to them becoming law,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr., D-NJ, and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle, D-PA, in a joint statement.

The FCC and the NTIA, under new head Alan Davidson, have already committed to improving spectrum coordination in an announcement in February.

Congress members write about ReConnect concerns

Twenty-eight members of Congress wrote a letter late last month to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack concerning the department’s ReConnect program allowing providers to obtain funding during its third wave of applications for the same areas that are receiving funding through the Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.

“Given the unprecedented amount of broadband funding that has now been appropriated through the [Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act], our concerns about duplication of Federal resources are magnified,” the March 29 letter said.

“Instead of dedicating valuable funding to completing the task of finally connecting unserved rural communities, the next round of ReConnect could direct a substantial amount of funding to areas that already have robust broadband service,” the letter added.

The lawmakers recommend that federal departments and agencies work together to avoid duplication.

Concerns about duplicate funding is partly why the disbursement of money from the IIJA awaits accurate broadband maps from the FCC.

Elon Musk joins Twitter’s board after taking stake in company

A day after it was revealed that SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk bought a 9.2 percent stake in Twitter, the social media company announced that the world’s richest man will sit on its board of directors.

On Tuesday, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal announced the appointment of Musk in a tweet, saying, “Through conversations with Elon in recent weeks, it became clear to use that he would bring great value to our Board.

“He’s both a passionate believer and intense critic of the service which is exactly what we need on @Twitter, and in the boardroom, to make us stronger in the long-term,” he added.

The announcement came a day after it was revealed that Musk, who was critical of free speech policies on the platform, paid $2.9 billion for Twitter stock.

Musk is to join Twitter’s 11-person board in a term that expires in 2024. He has agreed not to own more than 14.9 percent of Twitter’s stock or take over the company, according to filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday.

Musk did not sign an agreement that stops him from influencing company policies, unlike other board members.

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