Seven FCC transparency bills go to House committee

A House Energy and Commerce subpanel on Wednesday approved a bipartisan bill meant to make the FCC more transparent, sending it to the full committee.

But Republicans shot down a proposal from Democrats that would have had the commission require more detailed disclosures for some election ads.

Democrats tried to amend the FCC Process Reform Act to include provisions from the Keeping Our Campaigns Honest (KOCH, like the billionaire brothers Charles and David) Act — but the amendment failed along party lines.

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Rep. John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthDemocrats at odds with Manchin over child tax credit provision The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Biden, Democrats dig into legislative specifics Two House Democrats to retire ahead of challenging midterms MORE (D-Ky.), one of the sponsors of the KOCH bill, said that the committee could use the measure to address campaign ads that only vaguely identify their sources of funding.

“The American people is not served by that system,” he said.

But Republicans took issue with the idea of considering the proposal as an amendment and subcommittee chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) questioned the contents of the measure as well.

“If you want to get in the weeds of the proposal, it’s fraught with … some constitutional issues because you have the FCC deciding what’s a controversial issue or not,” Walden said.

“This would from city council races on up. So if you’ve got a radio ad, you’ve got to list all the names of the donors that are significant, as defined by who?”

Walden and ranking Democrat Rep. Anna Eshoo (Calif.), another sponsor of the reform bill, briefly got into a heated debate over her proposed amendment, which would lift a delay in the bill for a measure that would make it easier for FCC commissioners to vote in private.

“I think the disappointing thing for me today is we have acted in a bipartisan way, we moved what, three Democratic bills,” Walden told reporters after the hearing. “The bill we moved unanimously last year suddenly isn’t sufficient and needs to be amended?”

In the end, both amendments failed and the reform package moved forward.

Six other bills related to transparency at the communications regulator also passed out of the subcommittee.

Bills approved include one that requires the FCC to offer more data related to its decisions, legislation that would make the commission provide a public list of orders decided at the bureau level and a law requiring the FCC to publish orders as they are circulated to commissioners for a vote.

The subcommittee also signed off on measures to make public the commission’s internal procedures, order the FCC to work with the Small Business Administration and publish new rules the day they are adopted.

Other than a brief debate over Rep. Bob Latta’s (R-Ohio) bill dealing with decisions made at the bureau level, the measures were approved mostly without extended discussion.