Government Relations Update July 2017
White House Reiterates Support for Net Neutrality Repeal
The White House offered support for the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) proposal to roll back net neutrality rules.
"We support the FCC chair's efforts to review and consider rolling back these rules and believe that the best way to get fair rules for everyone is for Congress to take action and create regulatory and economic certainty," deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
Sanders' comments come a day after the agency closed its comment period on Republican Chairman Ajit Pai's "Restoring Internet Order" plan to undo the rules, which prevent broadband providers from blocking or degrading content.
Senate Confirms FCC Nominees
The Senate voted to confirm two new commissioners to the Federal Communications Commission, approving Republican Brendan Carr and Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel. This brings the FCC to its full quorum with three Republicans and two Democrats. Rosenworcel previously served as a commissioner from 2012 to January 2017 and will now serve a five-year term. Carr’s confirmation faced resistance from Democrats regarding the length of his appointed term, with a compromise resulting in his confirmation to a single 1.5-year term.
House Passes Funding Bill
The House passed a so-called “minibus” spending package, H.R. 3219, The Make America Secure Appropriations Act, before leaving for the August recess. This bill combines four of the 12 spending bills needed to fund the government beyond September 30, including funding for the departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Energy. The bill includes $5.4 billion for science research at the Department of Energy.
House Committee Approves IT Bill
This week, the House Oversight Committee approved an expansion to the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), which was originally passed in 2015. The FITARA Enhancement Act of 2017, approved by the committee last month, would extend efforts to help the federal government modernize its information technology.
The law streamlines aspects of IT acquisitions for federal agencies, and encourages better practices, including consolidating federal data centers. While generally viewed as working, many of the rules in that law are set to sunset in 2019. The FITARA Enhancement Act would eliminate the end date for rules that require risk assessments for IT investments and reviews of IT investments for efficiency and waste.