The Senate Commerce Committee will reconvene to continue its consideration of the Communications, Consumers' Choice, and Broadband Deployment Act of 2006 on Wednesday, June 28, 2006, at 10 a.m. in room 216 of the Hart Building.
Ted StevensSenatorClosing statement for communication bill markupJune 28, 2006This bill is the product of 28 hearings, 6 listening sessions. That whole cart is full of the hearings that have been printed so far, and we’ll add to it, of course, the record for these three days of debate on this bill. After I started this I was getting acquainted with the record in Texas and to a certain extent in Virginia as they turn to a concept of deregulation and it was clear from what I saw was that in Texas in particular, consumers were tremendously aided by the concept of competition as opposed to rate regulation by the government. And I think, the bill has changed substantially from the time we first introduced it. We’ve gone through a series of changes proposed by Senator Inouye and by Members on each side of the aisle. We have I think 25 amendments that you suggested as Co-Chairman and many others from the minority Members on the Committee. And we have had a general acceptance and forbearance from some of the people on this side who understood that some of those amendments might lose support. I think we might see some of those amendments on the floor. I hope that we don’t have any further divisive amendments.None of the amendments we’ve adopted in the markup undermine the consensus we’ve worked to achieve. We still have a massive disagreement over net neutrality. I still remain convinced that net neutrality is not something that we can define. We haven’t seen it anywhere here or in the world so far and that the World Wide Web is still open. The manager’s packages that we’ve put on here today and two the rest of the time. There are 48 amendments in the manager’s package and 32 of them came from minority Members. We have included in this bill, whole bills, enormous bills, introduced by Members from both sides of the aisle, such as Senator Inouye’s broadcast flag and audio flag provision and they’ve been acceptable the way we worked them out. We had literally hundreds of changes made here at the table that have made amendments that otherwise might have failed, adopted because of the willingness of each side to try and accommodate the views of others. In other words, I think this is the first real compromise I’ve seen recently coming out of the Senate and I think it is a good compromise.The question is whether a compromised bill can survive in the present climate, because it is obvious that it will take 60 votes to take it up: not only to take it up but to pass it. And there are dozens of provisions in this bill that really call for enactment. They must be enacted. For instance, the Call Home provision, the first provision in the bill. It means a great deal to those members of our armed forces who serve this country abroad. And the $1 billion for first responders that we were frustrated from putting up last year. The multiple petitions for advanced broadband and video services, the titles on child pornography and of the course the consumer amendments that I think we worked so hard to make sure they were strong, and I think they are strong.The question is whether the bill is supported by the industry that it affects. There are those that might use it, but this is a communications which is the most modest and vibrant portions of our economy and I believe that this has, this bill now has the full spectrum support from the industry, but it also has public interest support from the National Education Administration, organized labor to the Chamber of Commerce, small interest groups literally hundreds of groups, a list was put in the record of those who supported the net neutrality, I think we have a list that’s longer than that for those who support the bill without net neutrality or in spite of that fact that its not in there. Some people were very realistic and look at it say that they believe that net neutrality is right, but the bill has to pass now.I heard Senator Kerry, who is right, we should not be overly concerned about what the House does. When the House takes a vote as it did on the floor with such a bipartisan majority saying this is not the time for net neutrality, doesn’t say that it shouldn’t exist sometime, “but this is not the time,” I think that ought to be the hand writing the wall for us if we want to get the bill passed. I don’t know if I endorse my colleagues’ comments about my conduct. As a matter of fact my newspaper at home you would not recognize me at this table today. By the way, those points of views haven’t gotten home yet. I hope maybe some are listening to the comments because I’m flattered that they would make those comments and I thank them all for it.This bill now, I would ask the staff, to put in the record before the final passage a list of every staff member who participated in this bill and their function. I think one of the things we do, is we don’t really recognize and preserve for history the names of the people who were deeply involved. So I congratulate all of you this has been a tremendous bipartisan working staff. I think they get along better than the Senators do, as a matter of fact. That’s probably because they don’t have to offend one another by voting. It is a concept here, I think, we should realize that half the Members sitting here at the table who are bipartisan representing both sides of the aisle of this Committee and I thank them deeply for the work they’ve done. I particularly thank Lisa Sutherland on our side and Margaret Cummisky. The two of them are the staff directors of this Committee and the working relationship between them has I think shown across the whole of the staff as well as the Members. They are directly responsible for what we have done and I thank them and I thank you all for your attention.Is there any further business to come before the Committee? I will say this in closing, I think after the recess I would hope to convene a members meeting and see what we can do about reaching an accord on what should be in this bill even if net neutrality isn’t. See if we can get a slimmed down bill that might get 60 votes. There may be things in here that would lead people to assist us if other things were taken out, even though net neutrality has already been left out. I thank you for your courtesy and Committee’s adjourned.