WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR) continued to fight for our brave first responders and to protect public safety by introducing the FIRST RESPONDER Act. This bill makes sure that our first responders have the resources needed to respond to 9-1-1 calls and that funding and technologies allocated for 9-1-1 infrastructure are used for that purpose.
After introducing the bill, Rep. Walden issued the following statement:
“Our first responders deserve to have the tools they need to respond effectively when called for help, including a reliable emergency communications infrastructure. That is why Congress, in 2012, gave public safety valuable spectrum and billions of dollars to the public safety community to launch FirstNet, the national public safety broadband network. While that network is being built out and operated today, it will not be living up to its full potential without a reliable 9-1-1 infrastructure to deliver those calls for help.
“Americans pay fees every month on their phone bills to support 9-1-1 infrastructure, but in many cases their state politicians divert these resources to spend the money on pet projects unrelated to public safety. This leads to outdated and failing public safety communications networks that put the safety of Americans at risk.
“Public safety officials have been advocating to repeal a federal mandate to auction off their T-Band spectrum. Those same people should be knocking down the doors of their state governments to make sure that 9-1-1 fees are used to support their failing infrastructure.
“I am working with all of the stakeholders to address these issues surrounding public safety, and remain committed to ensure their resources— wireless spectrum and funds raised for the 9-1-1 system – are being used efficiently and effectively.”
This bill comes after Walden penned a letter with Communications and Technology Subcommittee Republican Leader Bob Latta (R-OH) last December calling on Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats to stop the diversion of 9-1-1 fees for unrelated, non-emergency purposes.