Administration Pans Republican FCC Reform Bill

OMB said the bill would effectively create a separate Administrative Procedures Act for the FCC
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The Obama Administration came out officially
Monday against the House Republican's FCC reform bill (H.R. 3309).

House
Democrats also opposed the bill, which among many other things would require
the FCC to justify regulations according to costs and benefits, survey the
state of the marketplace periodically, and before initiating any new
rulemakings, take other steps to make sure the public is getting bang for its
regulatory buck, apply shot clocks to decisions, put a "narrowly
tailored" restriction on all merger conditions.

Like
those House Democrats, the Office of Management and Budget, part of the
executive office of the President, said it opposed the bill "because it
would limit the ability of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to
exercise its statutory duty to protect the public interest in its review of
transactions affecting the vital communications industry."

The
House Rules Committee Monday was setting rules for debate on the bill, which
is scheduled to be brought to the House floor for debate and  a vote Tuesday (March 27), according to the office of Majorioty Leader Eric Cantor.(R-Va.).

OMB
said the bill would effectively create a separate Administrative Procedures Act
for the FCC.

"H.R.
3309 would also limit the FCC's ability to impose conditions, or to accept
commitments from transacting parties, as part of its review of transfers of
licenses and other assets," said the White House. "These restrictions
would harm the Federal Government's ability to promote the most effective
competitive outcome in any given transaction involving communications
firms.   H.R. 3309 would limit the ability of the FCC and the Justice
Department to work together on telecommunications matters to protect consumers,
promote competition, and increase innovation to ensure access to more choices,
lower rates and prices, and better products."

HR
3309 passed out of the House Energy & Commerce Committee earlier this month
on a party line vote.

The
cable, phone and broadcast industries all supported the House Republican FCC
reform efforts. Those Republicans had argued that the bill was a way to apply
President Obama's regulatory reform principles to independent agencies -- in
this case the FCC -- that were not bound by his Executive Order on regulatory
review.

House
Democrats said HR 3309 will needlessly tie the FCC's hands and lead to endless
litigation

and have the potential to undo decades of court precedent under the
Administrative Procedures Act, and could create uncertainty and confusion for
the FCC and interested stakeholders going forward.

To
the Republicans' argument about being in the spirit of the Obama deregulatory
directive, the Office of Management and Budget said: "[T]he Administration
is committed to ensuring that the decisions of all Federal agencies are open,
transparent, well-founded, and protective of the public interest. H.R.
3309 does not further those goals."

Related

FCC Reform Bill Unveiled

Would require FCC to justify regulations acording to costs and benefits, survey the state of the marketplace before initiating any new rulemakings