Rockefeller Releases Commerce Committee Recommendation to Deficit Reduction Panel

Recommends Public Safety Bill—Will Reduce Deficit, Create Market-Based Jobs

October 14, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV today released the Commerce Committee’s recommendation to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction regarding changes in law to reduce the Nation’s deficit.  Chairman Rockefeller and Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchison requested that the Committee on Deficit Reduction consider inclusion of S. 911, the Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act, in its recommended legislation. 

Chairman Rockefeller and Ranking Member Hutchison’s written request to the Deficit Reduction Committee follows:

October 14, 2011

The Honorable Patty Murray, Co-Chair

The Honorable Jeb Hensarling, Co-Chair

Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction

United States Congress

Washington, DC  20510

Dear Senator Murray and Representative Hensarling:

This letter is to provide the views of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation regarding recommendations for changes in law to reduce the deficit pursuant to the Budget Control Act of 2011, Public Law 112-25.  We appreciate this opportunity to provide our recommendation.

Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act (S. 911)

We respectfully request that you consider inclusion of S. 911, the Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act, in your recommended legislation. The Commerce Committee reported S. 911 by a strong 21-4 bi-partisan vote on June 8.  The measure provides significant short-term and long-term benefits to our Nation’s fiscal health, economic and job growth, and public safety.

Specifically, S. 911 does this by providing our nation’s first responders with the spectrum they need to communicate, authorizing spectrum auctions to assist public safety in building out a nationwide interoperable network, and providing real money for deficit reduction.  According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), even without making any modifications to the bill, the legislation generates $6.5 billion for deficit reduction.  We stand ready to work with the Joint Select Committee on possible ways to amend S. 911 to provide $10 billion in deficit reduction, without compromising rural build out for public safety officials.

While it is the measure’s deficit reduction that makes it most relevant to your work, S. 911 also delivers on one of the outstanding recommendations of the 9/11 Commission – providing an interoperable wireless communications network for first responders.  Now, 10 years after the tragic events of 9/11, we live in a world marked by a national mindset of vigilance and substantially strengthened security efforts.  Unfortunately, our public safety communications remain stuck in the past, and our nation’s first responders still lack the necessary spectrum and dedicated funding to deploy an interoperable wireless broadband network.  S. 911 offers a way to meet this national challenge in a forward-looking and financially responsible way, without costing taxpayers a dime.

S. 911 also promises to create additional market-based jobs by facilitating the transfer of large amounts of spectrum to commercial mobile broadband use.  According to one recent report by the Analysis Group for Mobile Future, reassigning 300 megahertz of spectrum to the mobile broadband marketplace within five years would spur $75 billion in new capital spending, creating more than 300,000 jobs and $230 billion in additional gross domestic product. Plus, the nationwide build-out obligations in S. 911 would lead to enhanced wireless deployment and job growth in rural America – where too many communities today lack the wireless infrastructure necessary to succeed in our modern economy.

It is also important to note that S. 911 remains the only bi-partisan public safety and spectrum legislation introduced, considered at multiple legislative hearings, and favorably reported from Committee.  Moreover, it enjoys significant support – from the Administration; our Nation’s governors and mayors; our Nation’s law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical officials; and many within the commercial wireless and high-tech industries.

We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to work together, across party lines, to meet a high national priority.  It is an opportunity that addresses a pressing national homeland security need, promises to save lives, creates jobs, grows our digital wireless economy, pays for itself, and provides billions for deficit reduction. 

The Commerce Committee recommends that the Joint Select Committee include S. 911 in any recommended deficit reduction package.

Senator John D. Rockefeller IV


Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison

Ranking Member

CC:  Members of Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction