FCC Reform Bill Passes House

Requires FCC to publish voted items on Web site ASAP

The House has passed an FCC reform bill that would require the FCC to publish changes to its rules within 24 hours of their adoption, with a caveat for dissenters.

HR 2589 would amend the Communications Act to require the FCC to publish on its Web site the text of any items adopted no later than 24 hours after dissenting statements, if any, have been submitted by any of the commissioners. 

The noncontroversial bill was introduced by Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) and passed out of the Energy & Commerce Committee unanimously April 28. It passed the House on suspension on suspension of the rules, a parliamentary procedure for quickly approving noncontroversial legislation.

While 40 minutes was allotted for debate on the House floor, 20 minutes for each side, almost all of that went unused, with both sides taking about four minutes to agree that they agreed on the bill.

Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the Communications Subcommittee, said the bill would help the FCC operate in a more effective and transparent manner. Walden said it would address the FCC's "struggle" to make new rules available in a timely fashion. Walden suggested the 24-hour deadline should not be a particularly heavy lift, especially since the FCC has already been doing a "reasonable job" in publishing new rules "fairly quickly" after adoption. But he said that is not the case with "controversial" items, citing the March 31 Lifeline reform item that was not available for 27 days.

He also conceded that the FCC needed time to consider dissenting statements, an amendment that was added to the bill in committee to achieve bipartisan support.

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), ranking member of the Energy & Commerce Committee, rose in support of the bill. He said that support showed Democrats were willing to work with Republicans on their FCC reform ideas, when the proposals are reasonable.

"“I am grateful for the Energy & Commerce Committee’s continued commitment to usher in transparency at the FCC - a principle that has been consistently touted by the Obama Administration, the FCC and members of both parties," Ellmers said following passage.