Government Relations Update August 2017
President Signs Executive Order to Speed Up Infrastructure Permitting Process
On August 15, the president signed an executive order aimed at establishing discipline and accountability in the environmental review and permitting process for infrastructure projects. The order includes projects to support the development of broadband internet under its definition of "infrastructure projects." The order is intended to reduce the timeline for the federal environmental review and permitting process in order to provide a quick turnaround on new projects. Additionally, the order also requires one lead federal agency to spearhead reviews for each major infrastructure project rather than the previous practice of having multiple agencies oversee and review proposed projects.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Delays Net Neutrality Hearing
The House Energy and Commerce Committee has delayed its hearing on net neutrality, originally scheduled for September 7. Republicans on the committee had intended to discuss potential legislative solutions for issues surrounding the debate over net neutrality, which so far has been left to the Federal Communications Commission to decide. Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) had invited executives from Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Alphabet, Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, and Charter Communications to testify before the committee. No announcement of a new hearing date has been made.
Senate Passes Six Bipartisan Technology and Telecommunications Bills
The beginning of August saw the Senate making a bipartisan effort to advance legislation addressing a variety of technology and telecom issues. Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, hailed these bills as proof that "the Senate is working for the American people." Significant bills included Thune’s own Making Opportunities for Broadband Investment and Limiting Excessive and Needless Obstacles to Wireless Act (MOBILE NOW Act), S. 19, increasing spectrum availability for next-generation gigabit wireless services and fosters broadband deployment, and the Developing Innovation and Growing the Internet of Things Act (DIGIT Act), S. 88, which seeks to bring together government and the private sector to assess the needs of the Internet of Things (IoT) and study the readiness of government to support the IoT.