Kansas' full complement of senators and House members (six in total, all Republicans) Friday called on FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to postpone the vote on a revamp of the E-rate schools and libraries telecom subsidy, scheduled for today (July 11) at the FCC's monthly public meeting.
They cited the concerns of fellow Kansan FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, who penned an op ed for the Wichita Eagle earlier this week with Sen. Jerry Moran, one of the six.
"When the E-Rate modernization plan was first proposed, the Commission touted the plan as a bipartisan effort to make commonsense changes to the program for the first time in 18 years," they wrote. "As the public has learned more about the FCC's plan, significant bipartisan opposition to the plan has emerged. There is great benefit to simplifying the application process, transitioning the fund to support modern technology, and making certain both rural and urban schools can benefit while providing Americans the most value for their dollar. We are concerned the plan falls short on these goals.
An FCC official speaking on background Friday said the chairman had the votes for passage, which will almost certainly be on a straight party line. That came after a "safety valve" was inserted, according to the official, to insure that the chairman's plan to migrate funding to wireless broadband does not come at the expense of basic connectivity, which has been the major issue with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, particularly the impact on rural schools and libraries, that and where all the money is coming from for the Wi-Fi push.