House Passes Bill on FCC Rule Publication Mandate

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By Kyle Daly

May 23 — The House voted May 23 to pass legislation that would require the Federal Communications Commission to publish text of adopted rules within a certain time period.

The voice vote on the bill (H.R. 2589), by Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), was an unusual display of bipartisan congressional harmony on legislation that would change agency processes. It's not clear how quickly the legislation will move in the Senate.

“For the past several years, Republicans have been focused on changing procedures [at the FCC]. Democrats are willing to work with Republicans on these ideas when the proposals are reasonable,” said Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce panel.

Under the bill, the FCC would have to publish the text of adopted rules within 24 hours of receiving any final dissents. The measure advanced unopposed in the Energy and Commerce Committee in April, after that panel added an amendment by Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.) including language that would allow the agency to wait for final dissents. The bill as originally introduced would have had the FCC publish items within 24 hours of adoption.

Pallone and Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the panel's Communications and Technology Subcommittee, both spoke in favor of the bill during floor debate.

Two Other Bills Pending

The House has not yet taken up two other FCC process overhaul bills that its Energy and Commerce Committee advanced alongside Ellmers's measure.

One (H.R. 2593), from Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio), would require the commission to publish identifying information on any items it delegates to another entity, such as one of the agency's bureaus. That bill didn't win bipartisan support in the Energy and Commerce Committee after panel Republicans voted down a proposed amendment by Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.) that would have required the FCC to establish a formal process for notifying the public of items decided on delegated authority.

The other (H.R. 2592), from Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), proved even more controversial in committee. Kinzinger's bill would require the FCC to publish all items under consideration at least 21 days before a vote. Critics, including Pallone and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, say the bill would keep the FCC from getting anything done by creating a constant cycle of input—particularly from telecom industry lobbyists—and revision on every item before the FCC.

Republican supporters say Kinzinger's bill would improve transparency and accountability at the FCC. It advanced out of committee on a 30-22 party-line vote. A broader Senate measure (S. 421) that would establish the 21-day deadline alongside other procedural changes has proven similarly contentious in that chamber.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kyle Daly in Washington at kdaly@bna.com .

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at kperine@bna.com .

For More Information

Text of H.R. 2589 is available at: http://src.bna.com/ffc.

Text of H.R. 2592 is available at: http://src.bna.com/evm.

Text of H.R. 2593 is available at: http://src.bna.com/evs.