GOP includes spectrum auctions, net-neutrality restriction in payroll tax bill

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 The FCC adopted net-neutrality rules last year that prohibit Internet providers from slowing down or blocking access to legitimate websites.

Blackburn argues her amendment is not an attempt to repeal the FCC's rules but would prevent the FCC from imposing unnecessary restrictions on businesses.

But Democrats see the provision as an attack on the FCC's ability to protect consumers and promote competition.

Walden’s spectrum bill, the Jumpstarting Opportunity with Broadband Spectrum (JOBS) Act, authorizes the FCC to auction spectrum that currently belongs to television broadcasters, splitting some of the revenue with the stations that choose to participate.

The spectrum is potentially worth billions of dollars to wireless carriers, which are struggling to meet the growing data demands of smartphones and tablet computers.

In a concession to Democrats, the bill also allocates the D block of spectrum to create a nationwide public-safety network. The network would allow first responders to communicate using video and other data during emergencies and would help officials from different agencies communicate with each other.

Auctioning spectrum has become a hot issue on Capitol Hill in recent months.

The Senate version of the spectrum bill, S. 911, cleared the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in June but has not come up for a vote in the full Senate. There was speculation that the deficit-reduction supercommittee would include spectrum language in a possible deal before those talks collapsed. And President Obama included spectrum provisions in his jobs bill, though Congress has not acted on them. 

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