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Public Statements

Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. DOYLE. Thank you to my colleague and friend, Anna Eshoo, the ranking member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, for yielding.

Mr. Chairman, I rise today in opposition to H.R. 3309, the FCC Process Reform Act. This legislation would place severe procedural burdens on the FCC at a time when telecommunications is such a major part of the lives of my constituents and the American public. H.R. 3309 would create harmful restrictions on the FCC's ability to enact consumer protections, and it could also limit the Agency's ability to respond to communications-related emergencies and cybersecurity threats.

One of the restrictions imposed by H.R. 3309 is a requirement that the FCC issue a Notice of Inquiry before the Agency begins work on an actual rulemaking unless the FCC can demonstrate that a Notice of Inquiry is not necessary. A Notice of Inquiry, Mr. Chairman, is basically an information-gathering exercise that lets the public know about the FCC's intention to examine an issue and collects initial comments from stakeholders. While in many cases a Notice of Inquiry is a very important part of the FCC's rulemaking process, a congressional mandate to conduct a Notice of Inquiry in every FCC proceeding would be an enormous procedural burden for the Agency.

Mr. Chairman, I'm concerned that the potential impacts of this legislation have not been fully considered.

If I could, I would like to share just one example of the harmful potential consequences this legislation would have, even for bipartisan goals.

Last year, Congress enacted a bill that I authored to create more community-run radio stations around the country. This bill was broadly supported by both sides of the aisle because so many of our constituents will benefit from more news reporting on local issues and emergency responses. The FCC is currently implementing that law and expects to open a window for radio station licensing sometime next year. But provisions in H.R. 3309, such as the requirement for a Notice of Inquiry, could slow down the implementation of this law and many other rulemakings by several years by adding procedural hurdles for the Agency to jump through before it can implement rules.

In the case of my legislation, the FCC would have to delay its licensing window because of an unnecessary Notice of Inquiry, forcing communities to wait longer to get their new radio stations. I think most people would find this kind of delay very frustrating. And this is just one example, Mr. Chairman. In the case of more contentious policy issues, this bill would create years, maybe decades of deadlock at the FCC.

Mr. Chairman, we don't have to look very far this week to witness that our Nation's laws and regulations are already been extensively litigated in the court. This legislation would open up the FCC's process to even further litigation, and it would severely limit the FCC's ability to protect consumers and create new rules.

I urge my colleagues to oppose this bill.


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