House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) pitched spectrum incentive auctions Thursday in a press conference featuring the Republican conferees named by House Speaker John Boehner.
According to various reports, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said the Senate would not return to try to conference on the House and Senate versions of payroll tax cut extension bill. The House version contained the incentive auction legislation language, essentially rolling Walden's version of that bill into the package verbatim. That package passed the House, but the incentive auction was stripped from the bill before the Senate passed its version and sent it back to the House, where Republicans blocked a vote.
At the press conference, Walden pointed to the spectrum auctions a one of the job-creating elements of the House bill that he suggested deserved to be on the table if they did go to conference. He said freeing up spectrum would create hundreds of thousands of jobs and would also create the interoperable broadband public safety network both sides of the aisle support.
Both Walden, and House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) were named to be conferees.
The spectrum incentive auction bill gives the FCC the authority to compensate broadcasters for giving up spectrum, compensate broadcasters who keep their spectrum for moving and "repacking" expenses, and creates and funds a national broadband emergency communications network, including allocating, rather than auctioning, spectrum for that purpose.