In a statement Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) sounded optimistic that a compromise version of incentive auction legislation would remain in the payroll tax package.
That legislation includes creating and funding an interoperable emergency communications network, which Rockefeller has been pushing for both in his own bill and in a House bill that was eventually modified to include allocation, rather than auction, of that first responder spectrum.
"We've made great progress and are very close to a historic milestone-creation of a new nationwide communications network for our first responders," said the Senate Commerce Committee chairman in a statement. "My expectation is that we will be able to include this legislative language in the compromise payroll deal that is close to being finalized. Although we continue to hash out some of the finer points of the legislation, the end result should be the same: a new communications network that will save lives and generate economic growth."
A Rockefeller aide described it as "huge win" that would provide "a major investment in new technology, a dedicated spectrum for first responders, a strong authority to manage the network with the public safety community in mind and provisions to foster competition."
The payroll bill conferees face an effective deadline of the end of the week for coming up with a compromise package.