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Conference Report on H. R. 3630, Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. ESHOO. Mr. Speaker, as the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, I want to provide an explanation of a key provision in the spectrum title of H.R. 3630, the recently enacted Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which promotes competition and ensures a vibrant wireless marketplace.

Section 6404 enables participation in a spectrum auction if a person ``complies with all the auction procedures and other requirements to protect the auction process established by the Commission'' and ``meets the technical, financial, character, and citizenship qualifications that the Commission may require under section 303(1)(1), 308(b), or 310'' of the Communications Act, or would meet those qualifications by means approved by the Commission prior to the grant of the license.

A similar provision was included in the version of H.R. 3630 passed by the House in December, however, the Conferees made three important modifications. First, they added the requirement that an auction participation must comply with ``auction procedures and other requirements to protect the auction process.'' This ensures that the FCC can ensure the integrity of each auction.

Second, they added a requirement to ensure the FCC has the authority to design auction rules, such as divestiture plans, and require a winning bidder's compliance prior to the grant of the license.

Third, and importantly, the Conferees added language stating that none of the limitations on the FCC's ability to prevent a person from participating in an auction ``affects any authority the Commission has to adopt and enforce rules of general applicability, including rules concerning spectrum aggregation that promote competition.'' This provision is critical to ensuring that the FCC can meet its statutory obligation to ensure competition in the wireless marketplace by avoiding an excessive concentration of licenses through auction-specific rules.

I'm pleased the Conferees saw fit to balance the original House language with this savings clause. As Americans increasingly depend on wireless services for both voice and data, this legislation makes substantial new spectrum available for auction and ensures that the FCC--by rulemaking--can adopt rules enhancing competition, consumer choice and innovation.

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