By Sara Jerome - 01/24/11 04:33 PM EST
As lawmakers decide how to line up on the controversial D Block issue, some of the chambers' most conservative members are voicing support for a proposal from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
One of them is Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the chairwoman of the Trade subcommittee. She strongly backs the plan to fund a nationwide mobile broadband network for public safety officials by auctioning off a valuable chunk of spectrum to commercial providers.
She expressed support for the proposal last year, touting it as the economically viable way to get the job done—in comparison to devoting the entire D Block to public safety as many police and fire groups would prefer.
"While we all strongly support public safety having the spectrum and equipment it needs to effectively and efficiently do its job, giving away valuable spectrum, quite frankly, is not affordable and not feasible at this time," Blackburn said in a hearing last year.
She said she felt confident the proposal could gain bipartisan support, and that she hoped other lawmakers would "reject an idea that we can not pay for, no matter how much merit it has on the surface."
A spokesman for Blackburn confirmed that she continues to support the auction.
Other lawmakers are catering to the public safety lobby instead. That includes Senate Commerce Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who plans to reintroduce his spectrum bill possibly as soon as this week, according to several industry sources.