WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) – member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, which exercises jurisdiction in the Senate over Federal telecommunications policy, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) – today applauded the inclusion of the RAY BAUM’S Act, a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on legislation reauthorizing the FCC and spurring the deployment of next-generation wireless services, in the omnibus appropriations bill. Additionally, Sen. Moran applauded the inclusion of federal resources necessary to keep broadcasters on the air in this omnibus legislation.
“This FCC reform package – the most sweeping reauthorization in 28 years – reaffirms Congress’ commitment to telecommunications infrastructure, broadband expansion and 5G deployment,” said Sen. Moran. “This omnibus provides certainty to broadcasters impacted by the incentive auction ‘repack,’ streamlines broadband expansion and economic competitiveness in rural America, equips the FCC and law enforcement to better protect consumers from fraud and makes certain the FCC continues to modernize its systems and improve its efficiency and transparency. I am pleased that several important provisions I introduced were included in this package and am encouraged by the bipartisan, bicameral effort that yielded this commonsense result.”
The Omnibus Appropriations Bill:
- Authorizes and appropriates federal support that mimics Sen. Moran and Sen. Brian Schatz’s (D-Hawaii) bipartisan Viewer and Listener Protection Act, S. 1632, which would make available additional funds to TV and radio stations who are moving channels as a result of the so-called “repack” necessitated by the incentive auction. The omnibus would also dedicate federal support to alleviate costs borne by translators and low-power television stations. Specifically, a TV Broadcaster Relocation Fund would authorize and appropriate $1 billion over the next two fiscal years to provide financial certainty to the parties impacted by the spectrum “repack.”
The bipartisan FCC Reauthorization package, the RAY BAUM’s Act, includes several Moran provisions:
- Sen. Moran and Sen. Mark Udall’s (D-N.M.) bipartisan FCC Chief Information Officer Parity Act, S. 2210, would authorize the FCC’s Chief Information Officer to participate in decisions regarding the Commissioner’s planning on information technology.
- Sen. Moran and Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) bipartisan Wireless Telecommunications Tax and Free Collections Fairness Act, S. 1261 – introduced in the 114th Congress – would harmonize state laws regarding which entity is responsible for collecting and remitting certain types of taxes and fees assessed on wireless services.
- Additionally, incorporated into Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Bill Nelson’s (D-Fla.) bipartisan MOBILE NOW Act are two Moran amendments to create a national policy and plan regarding unlicensed spectrum and to promote the availability of unlicensed spectrum to meet consumer demands for telecommunications services.
Other notable provisions of RAY BAUM’S Act:
- Reauthorizes the FCC and includes reforms to ensure the commission continues to improve its efficiency and transparency;
- Enacts key provisions from the Senate-approved MOBILE NOW Act (S. 19) to boost the development of next-generation 5G wireless broadband by identifying more spectrum – both licensed and unlicensed – for private sector use while reducing the red tape associated with building wireless networks;
- Includes a spectrum auction deposit “fix” which allows the FCC to deposit upfront payments from spectrum bidders directly with the U.S. Treasury;
- Directs the FCC to craft a national policy for unlicensed spectrum that includes certain specific considerations and recommendations; and
- Advances proposals that would help the FCC and law enforcement protect consumers from fraudulent telephone calls, and educate Americans about their options to stop these illegal calls.