Healthcare delays Senate Commerce Committee hearing on broadband plan

Lawmakers on the Senate Commerce Committee had no choice but to cancel their hearing on the FCC's National Broadband Plan on Tuesday because Republicans declined to permit the discussion's late-afternoon start time.

Pursuant to long-standing Senate rules, committees may only hold hearings after 2 p.m. if both majority and minority leaders consent to it.

However, Republicans on Tuesday declined to permit the Senate Commerce Committee's scheduled 2:30 p.m. hearing on the National Broadband Plan, as part of their strategy to retaliate against Democrats' use of reconciliation to advance budget fixes to their healthcare bill.

Consequently, the move forced Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) to cancel the meeting unexpectedly, to the chagrin of voters, experts, reporters and witnesses, who hoped to attend the first congressional hearing on the FCC's new broadband roadmap.

The committee has not yet announced when it will reschedule the hearing, at which FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is slated to appear. But a committee spokesperson told The Hill late Tuesday that the committee will try to take up the FCC's broadband plan "as soon as possible after the Easter Recess."