Senate Commerce Postpones FCC Reauthorization Markup

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By Lydia Beyoud

March 15 — The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee has postponed action on a Federal Communications Commission reauthorization bill.

The panel had planned to mark up the legislation (S. 2644) on March 16. Action on the bill was delayed to allow more time for the committee leadership to find a consensus among committee members, a GOP committee spokesperson told Bloomberg BNA. Lawmakers had prepared 44 amendments to the bill as of March 15, a committee aide confirmed.

A Democratic committee aide also said the panel needed adequate time and attention to reach consensus. The committee is also focused on a measure (S. 2658) to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which the panel still intends to mark up on March 16.

Ranking member Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) “looks forward to continuing to work with all of his committee colleagues to try to get this right,” the aide told Bloomberg BNA via e-mail regarding the FCC reauthorization bill.

The measure, introduced March 7 by committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.), would initiate a process to examine the FCC's regulatory fee structure and authorize funding for the agency at essentially current levels for two years, among other provisions.

A senior Senate Commerce GOP staffer said March 9 that the bill should be sufficiently modest and noncontroversial to get bipartisan support and pass Congress, but a Democratic staffer speaking at the same event sounded a more cautious tone, noting that FCC reauthorization would be “a difficult thing” .

Given Thune's desire to move the bill quickly, it is possible it could be slated for an April markup session.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lydia Beyoud in Washington at lbeyoud@bna.com

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