Statement of Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchison on Commerce Committee Markup of S.911

“This is the most comprehensive, far reaching and visionary piece of technology legislation in the communication field in the last decade.”

June 8, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In opening remarks at an Executive Session of the Senate Commerce Committee, Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) praised the bipartisan effort to send S.911, the Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act, to the full Senate for consideration. 

Below are Senator Hutchison’s opening remarks.

“Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. We do have several important pieces of legislation here, but I do want to add my views and my pride in what we have been able to accomplish in Senate Bill 9.11. We began this bill with very different approaches. The Chairman has been a tireless champion for the reallocation of the D Block to public safety to pair with its existing spectrum holdings in order to make sure that there is a reasonable financial support to allow for the construction of a nationwide interoperable broadband network for public safety. Any of you who were here on 9/11 and found that our capability to communicate with cell phones was also shut down in Washington, when we couldn’t communicate with other Senators, with our staffs and their families, it became very apparent that we were not prepared for the big events.

“But what we are doing today with this bill is not just providing for the interoperability in the cataclysmic events, but also just a fairly low level event, such as an apartment fire which could shut down the systems in a smaller community, or a train wreck, where you need to bring in people, like wildfires that we are seeing right now in Texas and Arizona and other parts of our country where you need to bring people in. You need to be able to know where you are going quickly, and our bill is going to provide for the future for the public safety, and that all is, frankly, the vision of [Chairman Rockefeller].

“My modifications were to ensure that we also took up the efficiency of the system while we were doing it and open up the spectrum for commercial capabilities as well, on a voluntary give-back basis by broadcasters, with incentives. The incentives will pay for the public safety interoperable system plus add, we believe, at least a minimum of $ 10 billion to deficit reduction. So I think we came out with a bill that is going to provide the vision of a public safety network that will help communities individually, and also on a much bigger scale planning for the future. We will also have the capability to open new spectrum for commercial auction that will provide all of the funding for both the public network and also increase the reduction of deficit. So I think that we have come out with an excellent bill.

“I know there are amendments and I certainly think that some of them I will support, but in the big picture the bill that we are going to vote on today is going to be, I think, probably the most comprehensive, far reaching and visionary piece of technology legislation in the communication field in the last decade. And I am very pleased that people have been able to come together, that many accommodations have been made on both sides of the aisle, and I am proud of the work of our staffs in hammering this out. So I think we have done a great thing and I think it’s going to be efficient, and I think it’s going to be responsible, and it’s going to protect our country far into the future.”