New FCC Reports Act Would Preserve Sec. 706 Authority

Eshoo, Scalise to Introduce 'Manager's Amendment'

Ranking House Communications Subcommittee  member Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) said she and Steve Scalise (R-La.), the House ajority whip and a Communications Subcommittee member, plan to introduce a managers' amendment -- essentially a substitute version of a bill -- to the "Federal Communications Commission Consolidated Reporting Act of 2015" that makes clear the consolidation of the reports, including the FCC's Sec. 706 report, does not impact the "explicit grant of broadband authority" under 706.

That will come in a markup of the bill today (Feb. 4) in the House Communications Subcommittee.

Elsewhere, members of the committee, as well as Senate Commerce Committee chairman John Thune (R-S.D.), have been working on a network neutrality bill that would both block reclassification of Internet access under Title II and "clarify" that Sec. 706 was not a broad brand of broadband regulatory authority.

The Eshoo-Scalise amendment also "preserves the FCC’s obligation to examine how retransmission-consent fees impact a consumer’s monthly bill," a report required by the recently passed STELA reauthorization.

Republicans aren't happy with the FCC's use of Sec. 706 to justify new regs, particularly now that the FCC has raised its definition of advanced telecommunications to 25  Mbps. But they would prefer Sec. 706-based network-neutrality rules to the Title II reclassification FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is expected to propose in his draft of a new open Internet order, to be circulated Feb. 5.