FCC Reauthorization on Tap in Senate Commerce
The Senate Commerce Committee plans to vote on a bill to reauthorize the FCC.
The vote is slated for March 16.
The measure, authored by Committee Chair South Dakota Republican John Thune, no longer includes some process overhaul provisions he floated last year.
Authorization bills establish, or in this case, reestablish a federal agency; it’s a chance to modify the terms under which the agency operates and how funds may be spent.
The FCC hasn’t been reauthorized in 25 years. Thune said restarting regular authorizations will make the commission more accountable to the public and ensure the agency has the tools to do its job.
S-2644 would reauthorize the agency for two fiscal years 2017 and 2018 at $361,116,000 and $348,711,000, respectively “together with such sums as may be necessary for increases resulting from adjustments in salary, pay, retirement, other employee benefits required by law, and other nondiscretionary costs, for each such fiscal year.”
For FY 2017, up to $16,867,000 would be set aside for the FCC to either move or reconfigure the Portals to “significantly reduce space consumption.”
The measure would also clarify that all commissioners, whether appointed to a full five-year term or to fill a vacancy that occurs during a term, may remain at the FCC beyond a term’s expiration. This is the “holdover” period in which Commissioner Rosenworcel is currently serving.
The bill would make the FCC more like other independent agencies in terms of transparency, requiring the commission to share certain documents with the Administration.
It puts regulatory fees under the microscope, to make sure they reflect today’s business landscape and include a GAO analysis of whether they accurately reflect the FCC’s workload.
It also streamlines deposits to the U.S. Treasury from spectrum auctions.