Lieberman praises spectrum plan in Reid's debt-ceiling bill

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Reid’s bill sets aside $7 billion through fiscal 2017 for the creation of a nationwide interoperable public safety network.

Lieberman said he was disappointed that funding for the network was less than the nearly $11 billion that was included in a bill that passed the Senate Commerce Committee last month. 

Homeland Security Committee ranking member Susan Collins (R-Maine) supports creating a network for first-responders, but she said the issue should not be dealt with in a debt-ceiling bill. 

“I think it would be better if the issue were handled through the normal committee process,” Collins said. “Trying to graft it onto the debt-ceiling bill is not a good approach.”

Reid’s budget plan raises revenue through voluntary auctions of spectrum space that currently belongs to television broadcasters. Analysts say the spectrum is likely to sell for billions of dollars.

Broadcasters say they support voluntary spectrum auctions as long as they are given a set of legal protections. Reid’s bill does not include them.

In a statement, the National Association of Broadcasters said it was “deeply concerned about provisions currently in Senate Majority Leader Reid's legislation that would threaten the future of a great American institution — free and local television. We will work with him as the process moves forward in hopes that our issues can be addressed."

The senators’ comments came after a Homeland Security hearing on emergency communications.

First-responders had difficulty communicating during the 9/11 terrorist attacks and in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. One of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Report was for the federal government to help state and local governments establish interoperable communication systems.

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