Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:  Bill Owens
Date: March 27, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. OWENS. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of my amendment to H.R. 3309, the Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act.

I agree that cost-benefit analysis is an important factor that independent agencies should consider before issuing new rules and regulations. To that end, I have supported bipartisan legislation that would require other agencies, like the CFTC and the SBA, to conduct similar analyses.

Mr. Chairman, in our efforts to change the rulemaking process at the FCC, it is important that we consider unintended consequences. My amendment is very simple and limited in scope. It simply expresses that nothing in this act shall impede the FCC from implementing rules to ensure broadband access in rural areas. I would like to clarify that this amendment is not intended to influence the current debate concerning the FCC's reforms to the Universal Service Fund.

Last year, I introduced legislation that would direct the Department of Agriculture to craft a comprehensive plan to expand broadband access to rural America. If such a plan were enacted under the bill we are considering today, the FCC would likely be required to conduct additional market surveys and analysis that could delay its implementation.

New York's 23rd Congressional District is 14,000 square miles and encompasses a large portion of the State's rural communities. My amendment would simply ensure that the development of much-needed broadband in rural areas, like in my congressional district in upstate New York, is not held up by the increased requirements imposed by the FCC under this bill.

Whether it is a small business in Massena, Watertown, Oswego or in Plattsburgh, New York, that wants to market its products to customers in Canada or to a hospital that is able to save a life by accessing patient records, access to broadband is critical to creating jobs and growing the economy in rural New York and in rural regions across the country. In many of these areas, there is simply insufficient demand for private industry to justify the cost of building out their networks.

Congress must be prepared to help develop this infrastructure to ensure our economy remains competitive in the global marketplace. I urge my colleagues to support this amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. OWENS. I just want to point out two items.

First, this bill is not intended to influence in any way the current debate concerning the FCC's reforms to the Universal Service Fund. We are not in any way attempting to impact that. In addition, what we're really asking is that the FCC take into account in its rulemaking process the rural broadband needs. We are not exempting it from the process but are simply asking that that be taken into account as they go through the process. There is no exemption intended here.
I yield back the balance of my time.

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