House Reauthorizes National Telecommunications and Information Administration

The Senate Commerce Committee also postponed, for a second time, a markup session with short-term funding for ACP.

House Reauthorizes National Telecommunications and Information Administration
Screenshot of Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio, calling for the vote on Tuesday taken from House livestream.

WASHINGTON, May 16, 2024 – The U.S. House voted 374-36 late Wednesday to reauthorize the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, aiming to modernize its functions to support the administration’s new mission to provide affordable, reliable, high-speed internet access to all U.S. households.

Separately, the Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday morning also postponed for a second time a markup session that would have taken up a bill to provide short-term funding for the Affordable Connectivity program.


The House vote to reauthorize the NTIA came hours after Republicans on a House oversight committee pressed the administration’s head for its handling of a $42.5 billion federal broadband expansion initiative.

This reauthorization, the first in over 30 years, came about due to the dramatic evolution of the NTIA since its last authorization in 1992, the bill's supporters said Tuesday.

The NTIA Reauthorization Act would promote the current head of the NTIA to Under Secretary of the Department of Commerce, signifying the elevated importance of the agency's functions in government operations.

This legislative package includes provisions from several bipartisan bills developed by the Energy and Commerce Committee this session.

Key components of the bill would codify NTIA’s current responsibilities, granting statutory authority to two NTIA offices focused on public safety communications and international telecommunications policy.

The package includes the Plan for Broadband Act, which requires the NTIA to collaborate with other federal agencies to create and implement a national strategy to close the digital divide. This includes monitoring the consistency, affordability, and quality of federally supported broadband services.

The package also includes the Open RAN Outreach Act to address cybersecurity issues, and includes language that would reauthorize NTIA’s spectrum management processes.

The bill passed the House under a suspension of the rules, a procedure that allows for less controversial measures to got to House floor. Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio, had pushed for a floor vote on Tuesday.

Congress mandated NTIA to connect every American to affordable, high-speed internet under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, along with providing funding to get the job done.

Delayed Senate committee vote

On the Senate Commerce Committee delayed vote, the committee would have taken up a measure to provide enhanced funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program.

The Spectrum and National Security Act, led by Committee Chair Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, would infuse the imperiled broadband subsidy with $7 billion to stave off a lapse at the end of the month.

It would restore the FCC’s authority to auction off spectrum bands and tap the proceeds for paying back that loan, plus funding the rip and replace program and other spending priorities.

A committee spokesperson told Broadband Breakfast too many Democratic members had scheduling conflicts.

Background on NTIA reauthorization

The NTIA is currently administering the $42.45 billion Broadband Equity Access and Deployment “BEAD” program to expand high-speed internet access in unserved and underserved areas. Additionally, it is managing $2.75 billion in federal grants for the Digital Equity Act to promote digital inclusion and advance equity for all communities.

The NTIA was also allotted $2 billion for the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program to improve broadband access on tribal lands under IIJA, as well as $1 billion to manage the Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure program.

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