House Commerce Panel Postpones Action on Legislation to Reform FCC

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By Alexei Alexis  

The House Energy and Commerce Committee Nov. 30 postponed action on a pair of bills aimed at reforming the way the Federal Communications Commission conducts business as an independent federal agency.

Due to a farm dust regulation markup that went longer than expected, Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) delayed work on FCC reform until the week of Dec. 5.

The committee is expected to take up the Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act of 2011 (H.R. 3309), a bill that would impose new restrictions on the commission's merger review powers and add new requirements to the agency's rulemaking process.

A related measure under consideration, the Federal Communications Commission Consolidated Reporting Act of 2011 (H.R. 3310), would combine eight congressionally mandated reports on the communications industry into a single comprehensive report.

Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) says the bills will introduce more transparency and predictability into the FCC's decisonmaking process. But Democrats say the legislation, particularly the Reform Act, will weaken the agency's ability to serve the public interest.