Sen. Stevens Speaks on the 911 Modernization Amendment to S.4

March 8, 2007

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  Senators Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas) and Senator Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) today introduced an amendment to upgrade the 911 system used to reach operators in an emergency to S. 4, the Improving America's Security by Implementing Unfinished Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007. The amendment was originally introduced as a stand alone bill sponsored by Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and co-sponsored by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas). 



Senator Stevens: 911 calls provide the first line of defense in the safety of our citizens and is critical for our public safety personnel. 
Technological advances now allow 911 calls to provide more information, such as the caller’s location and telephone number. 
However, in too many parts of the country, the public safety community doesn’t have the technology needed to receive location or other information. 
They need funding to help to upgrade their equipment.
This amendment would add the 911 Modernization Act, S. 93, which passed unanimously out of the Commerce Committee several weeks ago.
This would allow the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to borrow funds ($43.5 million) from the treasury to fund the Enhance 911 Act grant program now in advance of the spectrum auction.
Because the money is only advanced, the Congressional Budget Office has said that this amendment does not score.
The National Emergency Number Association that focuses on 911 recently announced that 80% of the country is capable of E911 capability.  But that 20% of the country that cannot is rural America and it covers 50% of the counties in America.
There is a matching requirement, to ensure that the money is spent wisely by public safety entities that are committed to improving the 911 calling capability of their citizens.
The amendment has the support of the Association of Public Safety Communications Officers International and the National Emergency Numbering Association and I submit this letter from these two premier 911 public safety organizations into the record.
With this borrowing authority, NTIA could get the money out to public safety community now.  The funds will be replaced, and enhanced 911 calls can begin saving lives in more of rural America.
This is absolutely essential, 50 percent of our nations counties do not have the ability to move forward.  Borrowing the money now from the auction of the spectrum is the best way to proceed.