House Subcommittee Passes Spectrum Bill
December 2, 2011 at 4:35 AM (PT)
As expected, the spectrum bill introduced TUESDAY (11/29) by House Communications Subcommittee Chairman GREG WALDEN (R-OR) calling for voluntary incentive auctions of broadcast spectrum was passed by the subcommittee in a mostly-party line vote THURSDAY (12/1). One Democrat, Rep. JOHN BARROW (D-GA), joined Republicans in voting to send the bill to the full Energy and Commerce Committee.
WALDEN's "Jumpstarting Opportunity with Broadband Spectrum (JOBS) Act" includes the controversial incentive auction proposal that the FCC has sought and broadcasters have mostly opposed for fear that the auctions would lead to involuntary frequency reallocation, and also allocates the D-block of spectrum to public safety agencies. Democrats complained that while they agree with the idea of spectrum auctions, they were not adequately consulted and needed more time to consider the bill.
In addition, Rep. HENRY WAXMAN (D-CA) warned that an amendment added to the bill by Rep. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN) that would block the FCC's ability to regulate net neutrality of wireless companies winning spectrum block leases at auction could cause Democrats to sink the legislation, reports THE HILL. "You can add this if you want, but the Senate is not going to accept it," WAXMAN said. "It may bring down the whole bill."
A Senate version of the bill passed the Senate Commerce Committee in JUNE and awaits a full Senate vote.