The House and Senate are rushing to move legislation forward before the 116th session of Congress adjourns next month. In a quick meeting Wednesday morning, the Senate Commerce Committee approved 11 bills and Coast Guard promotions, which are now all subject to approval by the full Senate.
Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) said the final vote, “represents hours and hours of work. We closed deliberations at 11 p.m. last night on the issues that kept us from moving forward. It is typical of the way we operate and the way we come together on a bipartisan basis.”
Three of the measures are of interest to telecom readers. They were approved by voice vote.
The bills are:
- S. 1166, Internet Exchange Act of 2019, Sponsors: Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Roy Blunt (R-MO). The measure is aimed at helping expand broadband in rural areas.
- S. 4472, Ensuring Network Security Act, Sponsors: Gary Peters (D-MI), Ron Johnson (R-WI), and Blunt. The bill is meant to improve an FCC subsidy program to remove China’s Huawei and ZTE from the U.S. telecom market.
- S. 4803, Beat China by Harnessing Important, National Airwaves (CHINA) for 5G Act of 2020, Sponsors: Wicker, and John Thune (R-SD). The measure would lock in administration plans to auction Pentagon spectrum for 5G next December.
The Competitive Carriers Association praised the committee passage of S. 4472. CCA President/CEO Steve Berry stated: “The legislation clearly recognizes the importance of addressing national security threats and providing sufficient funding to ensure that those most in need, specifically smaller carriers and providers serving high cost areas, are able to replace covered network elements. The reimbursement program is an absolutely essential component to ensuring carriers can continue to provide critical mobile broadband services to their customers, and I thank the Committee for its focus on this important legislation. We are committed to work with Congress to secure critically needed funding and hope this bi-partisan support will spur appropriations funding as soon as possible.”