Both Republicans and Democrats said Friday they
wanted their inquiry into potential FCC process reforms to be about making the
agency better, not pointing fingers at past commissioners of commissioners.
That came in opening statements before the hearing broke for
a lengthy floor vote recess.
House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden
(R-Ore.) made that point clear in his opening remarks. "As I told the
Chairman and each commissioner, and as Ms. Eshoo and I discussed and agreed
yesterday, a discussion about reforming process is not, and should not, become
an exercise in partisanship or serve as a cloak to attack past or present
commissions or chairmen," he said.
As signaled in the Republican and Democratic staff
memos on the hearing, Walden laid out some possible reforms--shot clocks for
decisions, conducting cost-benefit analyses on regulations, allowing
commissioners collectively to initiate items rather than just the
chairman--which he called simply "conversation starters."
Eshoo is Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) ranking member of the
subcommittee. She said that there was room for improvement at the FCC, but
cautioned against 'reforms' that would "diminish the Commission's ability
to protect the public interest and preserve competition in the
telecommunications marketplace." She did not elaborate.
But she has already proposed one change she would like to
see made in FCC process. That would be her FCC Collaboration Act, which she
plugged. That bill would allow more than two commissioners to meet outside of
public meetings, so long as both parties were represented. "We should move
forward with this bill in a timely manner and get it done," she said.
Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps has pushed for that change in the
FCC's sunshine rules.
Eshoo suggested that the commissioners should make it a
regular practice to visit new tech companies so they can better keep up with
the issues of the day. She cited a recent trip with Copps to some Silicon
Valley companies in her district, saying that she invited other
commissioners to follow suit.