Government Relations Update June 2017
President Announces FCC Nominations
Over the last several weeks, the president announced two nominations for commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The President will nominate Brendan Carr, currently serving as general counsel at the FCC, to be the third Republican commissioner at the agency. Before serving as the FCC's acting general counsel, Carr was a top adviser to Chairman Ajit Pai when he was a commissioner in the GOP minority.
Earlier this month, Jessica Rosenworcel was named to return to fill an open seat for a Democrat. A former commissioner, she served from 2012 to January 2017, when her term expired.
NTIA Administrator Confirmation Vote Postponed
The Senate Commerce Committee has decided to delay the scheduled vote on whether to move forward with the confirmation process for David Redl, the president’s pick to head the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Redl was brought before the committee for a hearing on his nomination earlier this month. While the hearing was generally considered to have gone smoothly, reports now indicate that Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) sought the delay over concerns about NTIA’s approach to internet governance in relation to the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) transition that took place last year.
Energy and Commerce Committee Holds Hearing on Broadband Coverage
On June 21, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing to review the National Broadband Map and whether it should be updated. A key point in the hearing came when Representative Mike Doyle (D-PA) argued that Congress should invest once again in broadband deployment and pointed out that the Democrats’ infrastructure proposal includes $40 billion for such an effort. Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), the Chair of the Technology Subcommittee, responded that Congress had previously funded the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) and that the funds had yielded little return.
The hearing can be viewed at the following link: https://energycommerce.house.gov/hearings-and-votes/hearings/defining-and-mapping-broadband-coverage-america
Democrats Seek Information on Net Neutrality Comments
Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ), the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, wants the Department of Justice and the FBI to review comments being filed to the FCC about net neutrality that he claims are "fake."
In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, Pallone writes, "I am deeply concerned that the sheer number of these potentially false comments suggest a coordinated attempt to materially mislead the FCC, and therefore a coordinated attempt to break federal law…I urge you to take swift action to investigate who may be behind these comments and, if appropriate under applicable federal law and regulations, prosecute the people behind these fraudulent comments."
The Administration has not responded publicly to the letter.
Bipartisan Bill Seeks to Address Cyber Threats to Small Businesses
A bipartisan group of legislators, including the chairmen of the House and Senate Small Business committees, introduced legislation to train staff at small business development centers in cybersecurity strategy.
On June 22, House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Senate Small Business Committee Chairman Jim Risch (R-ID) introduced the Small Business Development Center Cyber Training Act.
The bill would require that 20 percent of small business development center employees receive certification in cybersecurity.