With the dawn of the Republicanled 113th Congress this week, GOP lawmakers outlined their priorities for the New Year which include renewed efforts to enact FCC process reform legislation that was adopted by the House last year but later stalled in the Democratcontrolled Senate.
In remarks to the press, a spokeswoman for incoming Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (RSD) affirmed that “ensuring the FCC operates efficiently and responsibly will be an oversight focus” of the committee, as she noted that Commerce Committee members “will also be focused on ensuring that the Commission meets its statutory obligations to provide timely and relevant information to Congress.” Observing that “FCC process and reporting reform legislation have previously gathered broad bipartisan support in the House,” the spokeswoman promised that such measures “will certainly be given due consideration this year in the Senate.”
Along the same vein, Senator Dean Heller (RNV) predicted that “we’ll get something done” to enact bills resembling the FCC Process Reform Act (S1989) and the FCC Consolidated Reform Act (S1379) that Heller introduced in 2014 and in 2013, respectively. The FCC Process Reform Act resembles similar legislation that passed the House last March and would have amended the FCC’s “sunshine” rules to allow a bipartisan majority of FCC commissioners to meet privately subject to certain safeguards. Aiming to promote greater efficiency and transparency in the FCC’s processes, the legislation would have also required the FCC to (1) conduct market reviews prior to launching new rulemaking proceedings, (2) publicly disclose the agency’s method of publishing orders prior to commission meetings, and (3) establish shot clocks for the completion of proceedings. The Consolidated Reform Act would have condensed eight annual FCC reports into a single document.
Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, meanwhile, cited the FCC Process Reform Act in a paper summarizing various FCC and spectrumrelated policy proposals that the committee intends to pursue this year. With regard to the FCC Process Reform Act, the paper emphasizes that reform efforts “will create a stronger, better regulatory agency for one of the economy’s most vibrant sectors.” The policy summary also calls for “discussion of the appropriate management of spectrum, both federal and commercial, through licensing and authorizing,” stressing that “spectrum is a finite resource that is in everincreasing demand.”