Bills to Allow FCC Commissioners to Meet Privately Reintroduced

Would Modify 'Sunshine' Rules to Allow More Collaboration

Bills to allow three or more FCC commissioners to meet in private, so long as they don't take any official agency actions, are being reintroduced in the House and Senate.

Current sunshine rules prevent more than two commissioners from meeting in a non-public setting.

According to a joint announcement, Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), John Shimkus (R-Ill.) and Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) have already reintroduced a House version, with a Senate version being introduced on Thursday by Sens. Amy Klobuchar ((D-Minn.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.). That was among a number of FCC reform bills that did not pass last Congress, but it was the most bipartisan of that bunch and could have a good chance at passage.

"If the FCC is expected to tackle some of the nation's most pressing communications issues, commissioners must have the ability to communicate freely," said Eshoo, who is the ranking member of the Communications Subcommittee. "Simple collaboration, discussion of issues, and shared expertise outside an official setting are essential in order for the Commission to keep up with the rapidly changing telecommunications landscape."

Eshoo has been a driving force behind the bill, which is supported by the FCC commissioners and was a long-time issue for former acting chair Michael Copps, who often bemoaned having to work through staffers to communicate with more than one other commissioner on important issues. He suggested the change could lead for greater collaboration.

"I have always been a supporter of ending this ridiculous FCC rule. Allowing commissioners to talk to one another will only lead to better and more efficient work being done at the FCC, not the other way around," said Shimkus in a statement.