Week ahead: Republicans dig into FCC agenda

Lawmakers are putting the Federal Communications Commission under the microscope.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee's tech subcommittee will hold an oversight hearing on Tuesday that is sure to touch on several of the major issues facing the agency this summer.

Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), who chairs the subcommittee, named the FCC's TV set-top box proposal as a priority.

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"Obviously, there's a lot of concern being raised by on both sides of the aisle regarding the set-top box proposed rule, and what that means, and where they're headed on that, to the extent they can discuss that, I think is a high priority for members on both sides of the aisle, including myself," he said on Tuesday.

The FCC has proposed opening up the market for television set-top boxes. But the plan has come under scrutiny from both Democrats and Republicans. Industry groups have also proposed an alternate plan.

Walden also said he was interested in how a March bipartisan compromise on reforms to the Lifeline subsidy program fell apart. Republicans have questioned whether FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler or his office leaked news about a deal between his Democratic colleague Mignon Clyburn and Republicans in an attempt to indirectly pressure her to abandon it.

Walden said he was also interested in probing a federal court's decision to uphold strict net neutrality rules from the commission. He also said he thought there would be interest in talking about the status of a historic spectrum auction the commission is currently running.

"We'd be curious to know how they think that's going," he said.

Also on Tuesday, the Senate Commerce Committee will consider the FCC's proposed privacy rules for broadband providers. It features former Federal Trade Commission Chair Jon Leibowitz, who now leads a group pushing back against the proposal, among other witnesses.

A week before a long congressional break, privacy-minded lawmakers will also be keeping up their guard, warning that GOP senators could try again to push an amendment on the floor that would make it easier for the FBI to get a customer's electronic communication records without a warrant.

The amendment, which fell one vote short last month, would allow the FBI to get the records with National Security Letters, a type of administrative subpoena used in terror investigations that usually comes with a gag order attached.

Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — Drug pricing fight centers on insulin | Florida governor working with Trump to import cheaper drugs | Dems blast proposed ObamaCare changes Top Dems blast administration's proposed ObamaCare changes Drug pricing fight centers on insulin MORE (D-Ore.) and Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichOvernight Defense: Dems aim to block use of defense funds for wall | Watchdog issues new warning on Syria withdrawal | Trump wants to 'watch Iran' from Iraq Senate Dems introduce bill to block Trump from using military funds to build wall Puerto Rico statehood supporters pin hopes on House action MORE (D-N.M.) wrote in a Slate op-ed that "The bill's supporters have said they fully intend to bring it back this year."

 

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