Today, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx) voted to extend the payroll tax cut, ensuring working families in Queens and the Bronx would continue to keep more money in their pockets. The legislation, the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011 (H.R. 3630), also extends jobless benefits and ensures seniors on Medicare can continue to see their doctors. The legislation passed the House and the Senate and will now go to the President for his signature.
"Now, more than ever, hardworking New Yorkers need certainty that they will be able to make their mortgage or rent payments, pay down a credit card bill or even put food on the table. Extending the payroll tax provides for much-needed peace of mind during these tough economic times and I'm pleased Congress was able to reach a deal before the tax cut expired," said Rep. Crowley.
The legislation passed today also includes the allocation of spectrum and funding to create a nationwide interoperable communications network. This public-safety communications network will allow police officers, firefighters and other first responders to communicate and coordinate on one network. The need for such a network was made tragically apparent on September 11, 2011 when first responders from different agencies across New York City faced difficulties in communicating on the front lines of the rescue efforts because each agency operated under their own communication network.
"The creation of this network is an investment in our first responders, which must be equal to the sacrifices they make day in and day out," said Crowley. "I will continue to work on behalf of New York's first responders to ensure that this first step is not the last step in giving them the tools they need to keep our communities safe."
Specifically, the bill includes language to authorize the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to conduct voluntary incentivize auctions to repurpose broadcast and other spectrum for wireless broadband uses. As part of this auction, a portion of spectrum, known as the D Block, will be dedicated for use by the nationwide interoperable safety network. The bill also mandates that $7 billion in funding derived from the sale of other spectrum be used to finance the creation of the first responder network.
The creation of this network has been long championed by first responders and the City of New York, and was included in the report issued by the 9/11 Commission. Crowley called for the establishment of this network in his June 2002 homeland security report entitled, "SECURING NEW YORK: A Blueprint for Meeting New York City's Homeland Security Requirements".