Lawmaker pushes to reauthorize FCC for first time in 25 years

A key GOP lawmaker is out with legislation to reauthorize the Federal Communications Commission for the first time in a quarter century.

The draft bill from Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) — the head of the House Communications and Technology subcommittee — comes two days before agency’s five commissioners appear in his subcommittee.

{mosads}It should help bring the FCC into the 21st Century, Walden said.

“With this reauthorization, we are charting the course to make the necessary reforms to an agency that is ill equipped for the innovation era,” he said in a statement.

The draft legislation would fix FCC appropriations at the current level for the next four fiscal years, cap the funding for the agency’s Universal Service Fund at $9 billion per year, allow th agency to make some changes to its fees and prevent the chairman from being able to hire or fire the inspector general.

That addressed the agency’s “disproportionate” budget request for fiscal 2016, Walden said, as well as the “runaway growth” in the Universal Service programs that fund Internet access to schools, the poor and others.

The move to give new independence to the FCC’s inspector general also comes just as the agency watchdog has launched a new probe into the process behind the new net neutrality regulations. Opponents of the rules have feared that the White House has improper influence on the agency — which is legally independent — ahead of its release of the rules reclassifying broadband Internet as a public utility.  

“The public interest is always better served when government watchdogs can operate independently,” Walden said.

Tags Federal Communications Commission Greg Walden
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