Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), one of the strongest critics in
Congress of the continuing absence of an interoperable public safety
network almost a decade after 9/11, is resigning to take over the Woodrow
Wilson Center think tank in Washington.
A Harman staffer confirmed the exit, and said it was
expected by the end of the month. She had yet to put out a statement at press
At the FCC's public meeting on Tuesday, FCC Chairman
Julius Genachowski said such a network remained a priority and that if
that meant setting aside the so-called D-block of spectrum (as some legislators
have proposed) rather than auctioning it for a public-private partnership, as
the FCC had recommended in its National Broadband Plan, then he was for
whatever achieved the ultimate goal of an interoperable public safety network.
He said that the FCC would work with Congress on implementation.
Harman has introduced bills in the past to help pay for the
operation of such a network and extend funding for first-responder
Harman introduced the Homeland Emergency Response Operations
(HERO) Act in 2005, to enforce the 2006 deadline to clear analog spectrum for
emergency communications as part of the switch to digital. That deadline was
met, but the spectrum in the 700 MHz spectrum block freed up by the DTV
transition (the D Block) failed to draw a bidder at auction and has yet to be
re-auctioned--or allocated to public safety--and the network remains un-built.
"Through nearly two decades in Congress, Jane Harman
has been a champion of our national security, from standing up for our brave
men and women in uniform to reforming our intelligence community after the 9/11
attacks," said President Barack Obama in a statement. "Michelle and I
congratulate her on taking the next step in her career at Woodrow Wilson
International Center for Scholars, where she will continue to advance the
policies we'll need to keep America strong and prosperous. We will miss her
passionate voice in Congress and we join the people of California in thanking
her for her many years of service."