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Communications & Technology Updates


Chair Rodgers Blasts FCC’s Unlawful Decision to Subsidize Wi-Fi Hotspots

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) today released a statement condemning the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) following the agency’s approval of a rule to allow the E-rate program to support Wi-Fi hotspots for use off school property.  “This expansion of E-rate funding to cover off school property violates federal law and will result in taxpayer dollars subsidizing children’s unsupervised internet access while failing to improve learning outcomes for children. Furthermore, the E-rate program is notorious for overbuilding and other wasteful spending. Rather than take steps to address the existing problems with the E-rate program, the FCC is doubling down to advance Chairwoman Rosenworcel’s pet projects. The FCC should instead be working with Congress to advance its policy goals.”  On July 31, 2023 , Chair Rodgers and Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-TX) sent a letter to Chairwoman Rosenworcel expressing their opposition to her proposal to vastly expand the E-Rate program.  On September 28, 2023 , Chair Rodgers and Senator Cruz sent a letter to the then newly sworn-in FCC Commissioner Anna Gomez urging her to oppose FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel's plan to expand the E-rate program beyond school classrooms and libraries. 



Chairs Rodgers and Latta Press NTIA Over Failure to Respond to Congressional Oversight

Washington D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chair Bob Latta (R-OH) today sent National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Administrator Alan Davidson a letter demanding an explanation for the Agency’s repeated failures to respond to questions for the record (QFRs) in a timely manner. Congress has a responsibility to conduct oversight of the executive branch, and the NTIA’s failure to be responsive and transparent undermines our system of checks and balances. KEY LETTER EXCERPT: “We expect NTIA to take seriously our oversight efforts and respond to QFRs and letters promptly. After the hearing on December 5, 2023, it took you 107 days to submit your answers to the QFRs, far exceeding the 2-week deadline. “We received answers to QFRs from the December oversight hearing on the same day that we announced the May NTIA oversight hearing. It is unacceptable that in order to receive responses to QFRs from an oversight hearing, we must introduce more oversight activity.” The Chairs requested answers to the following questions:   During our May 15, 2024, oversight hearing, when questioned about the untimeliness of NTIA’s responses, you said, “I don't know all the details about why each of those took so long, and I would be happy to get back to you. I think the process of writing the QFRs were quite lengthy.” Please describe the process of drafting QFR responses. During that same hearing, you also said “We have to get them [(responses to QFRs)] all cleared through a complex internal interagency process, and that often slows us down.” Please explain each of the steps in this process. How can this interagency process be adjusted to ensure that NTIA responds promptly to the Committee’s requests? CLICK HERE to read the full letter.



Rodgers, Comer, House GOP Committee Leaders Demand Federal Agencies Adhere to Recent Chevron Reversal

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Oversight and Acoountability Committee Chair James Comer (R-KY) sent letters to eight federal agencies today following the recent Supreme Court decision on Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo , in which the court overruled Chevron deference. Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK) and House Agriculture Committee Chair GT Thompson (R-PA) joined Chairs Rodgers and Comer on an additional letter sent to the Environmental Protection Agency. KEY LETTER EXCERPT: “We write to call to your attention Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, a recent Supreme Court decision that precludes courts from deferring to agency interpretations when the statutes are ambiguous. In its decision, the Court explicitly overruled Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984), which required deference to agency interpretations of ambiguous statutes. By allowing such deference, the Court in Chevron enabled the ‘Administrative State’ to usurp the legislative authority that the Constitution grants exclusively to Congress in Article I. The Chevron decision led to broader, more costly and more invasive agency regulation of Americans’ lives, liberty, and property.   “Perhaps no administration has gone as far as President Biden’s in issuing sweeping Executive edicts based on questionable assertions of agency authority. The Biden administration has promulgated far more major rules, imposing vast costs and paperwork burdens, than either its most recent predecessors. Many of these rules...have been based on overreaching interpretations of statutes enacted by Congress years ago, before the issues now regulated were even imagined.   “The expansive Chevron deference has undermined our system of government, creating an unaccountable Administrative State. Thankfully, the Court has now corrected this pattern, reaffirming that ‘[i]t is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.’ Given the Biden administration’s record of agency overreach, we are compelled to underscore the implications of Loper Bright and remind you of the limitations it has set on your authority.”   CLICK HERE to read the letter to the Environmental Protection Agency. CLICK HERE to read the letter to the Federal Communications Commission.  CLICK HERE to read the letter to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.  CLICK HERE to read the letter to the Federal Trade Commission.  CLICK HERE to read the letter to Department of Commerce.   CLICK HERE to read the letter to the Department of Energy.  CLICK HERE to read the letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.  CLICK HERE to read the letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  CLICK HERE to read the letter to the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration.



Jul 9, 2024
Hearings

Chair Rodgers Opening Remarks at FCC Budget Hearing

Washington D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) delivered the following opening remarks at today’s Communications and Technology Subcommittee hearing titled “The Fiscal Year 2025 Federal Communications Commission Agency Budget.”  FCC REGULATIONS WILL HARM DEPLOYMENT “Bridging the digital divide is one of this Committee’s top priorities, and it is the FCC’s statutory responsibility to assist us in this effort. “But unfortunately, the FCC has been failing in its mission. “The Commission’s recent action to reclassify broadband Internet access as a public utility under Title II of the Communications Act, as well as the agency’s broad rules on digital discrimination, have undermined our efforts to ensure every American has access to broadband. “This could not have come at a worse time. “We are on the verge of closing the digital divide. “Congress has dedicated billions of dollars to achieve this effort, including $42 billion dollars for Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. “Those efforts are undercut when the Commission then places heavy-handed regulations and micromanages providers, making it harder to encourage participation in these programs, to deploy and operate new networks, and get more people connected." HISTORY HAS PROVEN TITLE II IS UNNECESSARY “As has already been proven once, Title II is a solution in search of a problem. “It’s a century old framework designed to address telephone monopolies, whereas today’s broadband marketplace is incredibly competitive. “These regulations will hurt consumers most, resulting in higher prices and slower internet speeds. “The FCC has failed to learn from previous efforts and has no legitimate justification for these heavy-handed regulations. “The talking points that these regulations protect consumers from harmful ISP practices are not rooted in fact and have already been disproven once by the incredible performance of our networks, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The facts are that speeds are up, investment in broadband networks is up, and prices for consumers are down. “The fast lanes, blocking, and throttling of traffic that Democrats warned about never transpired. “Our light-touch regulatory environment works and turning away from this success with unnecessary regulations is the wrong action.” UNLAWFUL ACTIONS BY THIS FCC “Reclassifying broadband under Title II is not only bad policy, it is also unlawful. “As the Republicans on both this Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee wrote to the Commission before its decision, the FCC has no authority to reclassify broadband. “That is Congress’ job, as the Supreme Court recently confirmed. “The FCC doesn't get to just claim something is necessary for American national security in order to do whatever they want. “That is for Congress to decide, as it has in numerous instances recently with things like our TikTok legislation, establishing the rip-and-replace program, and passing the Secure Equipment Act. “The decision on how to regulate broadband can have significant economic and political consequences, and requires the FCC have clear authorization from Congress in order to act. “When it comes to Title II, we have given the Commission no such authority. “This is not the first time this FCC has exceeded their authority. “Last December, the agency approved rules on data breach notifications that mirror the rules that Congress disapproved of in 2017 through the Congressional Review Act procedures. “The CRA forbids the FCC from enacting rules that are 'substantially the same' as those Congress rejected. “And now the FCC is circulating an order that would regulate the use of artificial intelligence in political ads—a task that does not fall under the jurisdiction of the commission, and which drew condemnation from the Federal Election Commission, the independent agency who does hold that authority. “This pattern of the FCC abusing its authority and ignoring Congressional direction is just another example of the Biden Administration’s efforts to assert more federal control over the American people’s lives. “This must end, and I look forward to the courts stepping in to overturn these unlawful power grabs. “This agency is pursuing a partisan agenda that ignores Congress and fails to solve the actual problems impacting Americans like illegal robocalls, or permitting reform to help deploy broadband faster, or additional ways to secure our networks from the threats posed by our adversaries. “Today’s hearing presents an opportunity to hold the FCC accountable for its actions. “I look forward to our discussion today.” 



Chair Rodgers Announces Full Committee Business Meeting

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) today announced a Full Committee Business Meeting to approve the transfer of the official classified transcript from the March 7, 2024, executive session titled “Legislation to Protect American Data and National Security from Foreign Adversaries” to the Department of Justice (DOJ).  “We’ve all witnessed how the Chinese Communist Party weaponizes platforms like TikTok to manipulate the American people. These applications present a clear national security threat to the American people, which is why Energy and Commerce led in passing H.R. 7521, the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act , that was signed into law earlier this year. I am confident this legislation will withstand legal scrutiny and we will do what we can to support the Department of Justice in their efforts to defend the law in court, starting with the transfer of the Committee’s classified hearing transcript later this week.”  BACKGROUND   On March 23, 2023, the Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing with TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew to understand the risks associated with the China-controlled application.  On March 7, 2024, the Committee held a legislative hearing on H.R. 7521 titled “Legislation to Protect American Data and National Security from Foreign Adversaries.” Due to the sensitive nature of the topics, the Committee voted to hold that hearing in Executive Session, making the contents of the hearing classified.  On June 18, 2024, the Committee received a formal request from the DOJ to receive a copy of the official classified transcript from that hearing to utilize in their efforts to defend the law in court.  The rules of the House of Representatives require that the Committee vote to approve the official release of that classified transcript to DOJ.  WHAT: Full Committee Business Meeting to approve the transfer of the official classified transcript from the March 7, 2024, executive session titled “Legislation to Protect American Data and National Security from Foreign Adversaries” to DOJ.  DATE: Thursday, July 11, 2024  TIME: 10:00 AM ET  LOCATION: 2123 Rayburn House Office Building  This notice is at the direction of the Chair. The hearing will be open to the public and press and will be live streamed online at https://energycommerce.house.gov/ . If you have any questions concerning the hearing, please contact Noah Jackson at Noah.Jackson@mail.house.gov . If you have any press-related questions, please contact Sean Kelly at Sean.Kelly@mail.house.gov



Jul 9, 2024
Press Release

E&C Leaders Open Investigation into NTIA’s IIJA BEAD Funding Deployment, Citing Abnormal Lack of Transparency and Allegations of Rate Regulation

Washington, D.C. — In a new letter to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Chair Bob Latta (R-OH), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA) requested all communications between the agency and state broadband offices related to Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Initial Proposals. The letter comes amid concerns that NTIA is unlawfully pressuring states to rate regulate low-cost broadband plans required by the BEAD Program and following a May 15, 2024, hearing at which Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information Alan Davidson committed to being more transparent about BEAD funding decision making.  KEY EXCERPT :  “Based on anecdotal evidence from different entities involved in the process, it appears that the NTIA may be evaluating initial proposals counter to Congressional intent and in violation of the law. Several Members of Congress have directly raised to you that the NTIA, through its review of initial proposals, is unlawfully regulating the rate of broadband through BEAD’s low-cost service option in direct conflict with the IIJA, which states: ‘Nothing in this title may be construed to authorize the Assistant Secretary or the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to regulate the rates charged for broadband service.’9 During Senate floor debate on the IIJA, Members of Congress agreed that this language meant that ‘no rate regulation of broadband services would be authorized or permitted by the NTIA or the Assistant Secretary who leads the NTIA as part of the state broadband grant program.’” “States have reported that the NTIA is directing them to set rates and conditioning approval of initial proposals on doing so. This undoubtedly constitutes rate regulation by the NTIA. Indeed, one state publicly posted the NTIA’s feedback that the agency would not approve their initial proposal without ’an exact price or formula’ for the state’s low-cost option. Without visibility into the approval process, Congress in unable to determine how widespread this practice is. When asked about this at oversight hearings, your responses have failed to provide clarity.”  BACKGROUND:  Congress appropriated an unprecedented $42.45 billion through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) for the NTIA to administer the BEAD program.   The program was intended to ensure that all Americans, specifically those in unserved or underserved areas, have access to broadband.   The NTIA is responsible for managing and distributing this money to the states and territories.  The IIJA prohibits the NTIA from rate regulation.  The IIJA established a process for how states receive money from the NTIA for this program.   First, each of the 56 individual states and territories (state entities) were required to submit an Initial Proposal explaining their proposed process for awarding the funds.   The NTIA was then tasked with reviewing and approving each individual states entities’ proposal, after which funds would be allocated to the state to award.   Some states report that the NTIA is conditioning approval of their Initial Proposals on setting a specific price for low-cost broadband plans despite the prohibition on rate regulation.  Despite every state entity having submitted their initial proposals by the December 27, 2023, deadline, the NTIA has only approved 16 initial proposals as of the date of this letter.   Due to the opaque nature of the NTIA’s review and approval process, the Committee lacks the information necessary to assess whether NTIA is pressuring states to rate regulate and to understand why so few state entities initial proposals have been approved to move forward.  CLICK HERE to read the full letter to Assistant Secretary Davidson. 



Jul 9, 2024
Hearings

Subcommittee Chair Latta Opening Remarks at FCC Budget Hearing

Washington D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Chair Bob Latta (R-OH) delivered the following opening remarks at today’s subcommittee hearing titled “The Fiscal Year 2025 Federal Communications Commission Agency Budget.”  “This is the third time we’ve had the FCC before us this Congress, and I am pleased that we are maintaining a cadence of consistent oversight hearings. “I want to start by offering the Committee’s condolences to Chairwoman Rosenworcel on the passing of her father. We hope that your memories of him have helped you cope during this difficult time. Although we disagree on policy, we can come together to share each other’s grief.” BIDEN’S BROADBAND TAKEOVER “The last time the FCC was before us, we discussed its role in President Biden’s broadband takeover and its overregulation of the communications industry. “Unfortunately, the agency has only continued down this path. “Earlier this year, the FCC voted to reclassify broadband as a common carrier under Title II of the Communications Act. “Under the guise of ‘net neutrality,' this action expands the FCC’s authority over broadband, allowing the agency to impose burdensome regulations that will make it harder for providers to deploy broadband. “As I have stated before, this action is absolutely unnecessary. In 2017, after the FCC reversed the Obama FCC’s reclassification of broadband, the Democrats told the world that we would get the internet one-word-at-a-time and that the internet as we knew it would end. “As we all know, none of those fears came true. “I asked my office to keep track of how many of my constituents called in after the repeal to say they lost their internet—and I received zero calls. “Instead, broadband networks thrived because of increased investment by private companies that has led to higher speeds and lower prices. “Indeed, our networks survived the ultimate stress test when they withstood increased usage as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, when almost every aspect of everyday life went online.” BURDENSOME REGULATIONS LIMIT INTERNET ACCESS “Contrast what happened in the United States to what happened in Europe, where regulators had to ask websites like YouTube and Netflix to throttle and degrade service to withstand the increased demand. “At our last hearing, Chairwoman Rosenworcel attributed our success to states enacting their own net neutrality policies but that couldn’t be further from the truth. “The internet continued to function normally between the repeal and states enacting their laws, only a few states acted, and none enacted anything close to the utility-style regulations that the FCC repealed and is now reimposing. “The true source of success for our networks was the light-touch regulatory framework that the FCC just moved away from. “This action is just one of many taken by this FCC to hinder United States leadership in technology. The effect of these decisions is that deploying broadband and providing service will be more challenging for providers. “These actions could not come at a worse time. Congress provided $42.5 billion to close the digital divide. The Commission is undermining that effort by imposing regulations that will make it more expensive and more burdensome to deploy, when they should be doing the opposite. “I urge the FCC to reverse course and restore the light-touch regulatory environment that allowed broadband investment to thrive. “I have many questions about the direction the Commission is taking, and I thank the Commissioners for being here today. I look forward to discussing these and other important issues before the Commission.”



Jul 2, 2024
Hearings

Chairs Rodgers and Latta Announce FCC Oversight Hearing

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chair Bob Latta (R-OH) today announced a hearing titled “Fiscal Year 2025 Federal Communications Commission Budget.”  “The U.S. maintains some of the most preeminent broadband networks in the world. This has resulted in lower costs and faster, more reliable services to Americans that have helped cement American innovation and leadership in next-generation technologies. Our networks have benefitted from a light-touch regulatory approach, which has allowed them to adapt and thrive. Unfortunately, recent actions by the FCC, including burdensome new regulations, threaten that light-touch system and people’s access to these critical services. We look forward to discussing with FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and the other Commissioners how we can return the FCC to its mission of ensuring universal access to broadband services and closing the digital divide.”  Subcommittee on Communications and Technology hearing titled: “Fiscal Year 2025 Federal Communications Commission Budget.”   WHAT: Communications and Technology Subcommittee hearing on the budget for the Federal Communications Commission.  DATE: Tuesday, July 9, 2024  TIME: 10:00 AM ET  LOCATION: 2123 Rayburn House Office Building  WITNESSES: The Honorable Jessica Rosenworcel, Chairwoman, Federal Communications Commission  The Honorable Brendan Carr, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission  The Honorable Geoffrey Starks, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission  The Honorable Nathan Simington, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission  The Honorable Anna Gomez, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission  This notice is at the direction of the Chair. The hearing will be open to the public and press and will be live streamed online at https://energycommerce.house.gov/ . If you have any questions concerning the hearing, please contact Noah Jackson at Noah.Jackson@mail.house.gov . If you have any press-related questions, please contact Sean Kelly at Sean.Kelly@mail.house.gov .



Jun 28, 2024
Press Release

Chair Rodgers Statement on SCOTUS Ruling to Restore Article I Power

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) issued the following statement after the United States Supreme Court struck down the “Chevron Deference” in Loper Bright Enterprises, et al. v. Raimondo : “Article I of the Constitution established Congress’s role to write the laws of the land—not the Executive Branch. The Supreme Court’s ruling today will help restore the proper balance of power as the Founders envisioned it. Moving forward, major decision-making authority will no longer automatically be deferred to unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats. Power has been placed back in the hands of the American people and their elected representatives, as the Constitution prescribes.”