Government Relations Update October 2017
Congressional Budget for FY2018 Passes Both Houses
The House passed its version of the FY2018 budget, H. Con. Res. 71, following its approval by the Senate days earlier. The budget serves as a planning document for federal spending over the next several years and is a crucial part of the legislative process, as it also sets the rules for how changes to matters of fiscal policy may be implemented in Congress. This budget was seen as an important building block on the road to tax reform, the next significant Congressional priority, as it has laid the groundwork for a number of legislative changes to be made to facilitate the forthcoming tax bill.
NTIA Administrator's Nomination Vote Put on Hold Once More
Senate Communications Subcommittee ranking member Brian Schatz (D-HI) has placed a hold to block a full Senate vote on the confirmation of David Redl to be NTIA administrator. This comes after a previous hold on the confirmation vote, placed by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), had been removed following a deal reached with Redl and the administration, ending months of delay. Senator Schatz said that he placed the hold in order to gather information to fully understand the deal reached with Senator Cruz over concerns about any promises that may have been made by the nominee or the administration. It is currently unclear how much of an effect Senator Schatz’s hold may have on the process or how long of an additional delay this may cause on a final vote.
Bipartisan Broadband Deployment Bill Introduced in Senate
S. 1988, the Streamlining Permitting to Enable Efficient Deployment of Broadband Infrastructure Act (SPEED Act), was introduced by Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) in late October to accelerate broadband deployment by exempting some projects in public rights-of-way from environmental and historic reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act. The bill provides for certain exemptions in cases of expansion of existing telecommunications infrastructure, which already underwent a review, and for wireless deployments that meet certain requirements. The full text of the bill is available.