WASHINGTON – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.), and Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) announced today a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on legislation reauthorizing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and spurring the deployment of next-generation wireless services.
The legislation, RAY BAUM’S Act (H.R. 4986), will be voted on in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, March 6, 2018.
“This legislation, combining provisions that have previously passed both the House and Senate, does what no legislation has done in 28 years – it reauthorizes the FCC and includes provisions that help make sure that the Commission is transparent, efficient, and ready for the 21st century communications landscape. This bipartisan, bicameral product puts consumers first and solidifies the nation’s critical telecommunications infrastructure, giving the U.S. a global edge in the race to 5G and improving internet services across the country. Importantly, it includes spectrum legislation that passed the Senate unanimously last year and authorizes reimbursement for broadcasters who were displaced in the successful incentive auctions. We look forward to continued bicameral, bipartisan work to make sure RAY BAUM’s Act is signed into law,” said Walden, Pallone, Thune and Nelson.
The Energy and Commerce Committee approved an earlier version of H.R. 4986 by voice vote last month. The Senate Commerce Committee passed its own bipartisan FCC reauthorization bill last Congress.
The legislation to be considered next week would:
- Reauthorize the FCC and include reforms to ensure the commission continues to improve its efficiency and transparency.
- Enact key provisions from the Senate-approved MOBILE NOW Act (S. 19) to boost the development of next-generation 5G wireless broadband by identifying more spectrum – both licensed and unlicensed – for private sector use and reducing the red tape associated with building wireless networks.
- Authorize a repack fund to address the shortfall in funding available to relocate broadcasters being displaced following the successful Incentive Auction, and set up new relocation funds for translators, low-power television, and radio stations that will be impacted by the repack – supplemented by a consumer education fund.
- Include a spectrum auction deposit “fix” which allows the FCC to deposit upfront payments from spectrum bidders directly with the U.S. Treasury.
- Direct the FCC to craft a national policy for unlicensed spectrum that includes certain specific considerations and recommendations.
- Advance proposals that would help the FCC and law enforcement protect consumers from fraudulent telephone calls, and to educate Americans about their options to stop these illegal calls.
The bill is named for former Energy and Commerce Committee Staff Director Ray Baum, a champion of telecommunications policy and long-time personal friend of Chairman Walden, who lost his battle with cancer in February 2018.