Washington, D.C. — Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Republican Leader Bob Latta (R-OH) urge Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) to schedule an oversight hearing to review the Federal Communication Commission’s implementation plans regarding key connectivity programs and their commitment to free speech.
Excerpts and highlights from the letter:
“As you are aware, the FCC is responsible for implementing the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program and the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF), and the Broadband DATA Act (P.L. 116-130) to produce accurate broadband maps, which are vital to expanding Internet access in unserved areas in the United States.
“Together, the EBB and ECF programs total over $10 billion dollars and without proper implementation, these programs could be subject to waste, fraud, and abuse. At a time when the FCC is implementing these important, unprecedented programs, the Commission still is without a permanent Chair and short-handed with only four commissioners. Now that rules have been adopted for both programs, the Committee should invite the FCC to testify publicly about their plans to implement these programs. Oversight of these programs should be a bipartisan interest, given our mutual desire to see them implemented successfully.
“In addition, we have significant concerns with the lack of the acting-Chair’s commitment to free speech.
“In February, senior Energy and Commerce Democratic members pressured major multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) in an effort to remove conservative news programming from their channel lineups. Unfortunately, the acting-Chair ignored Energy and Commerce Republicans’ request that she denounce efforts of these Federal government officials to silence speech. This is unacceptable.
“Protecting free speech is a core responsibility of the FCC, and the Commission is prohibited from preventing the broadcast of any point of view. It is time for the acting-Chair and the Commission to come to the Committee and take a stand against efforts to silence speech, even when we disagree with it.”
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