Waxman goes to radio silence on sinking 9/11 communications bill over net neutrality

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
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Ten years after the attacks of September 11, 2001, a new amendment to a House bill to provide police officers and firemen with the electromagnetic spectrum frequencies needed to improve their communications networks could possibly sink the whole bill in the Senate. The communications bill is designed to prevent the problems during September 11, when first responders died because police and fire departments could not communicate with each other. (RELATED: Spectrum: What it is, and why it matters)

House Democrat Henry Waxman warned colleagues on Thursday that the bill could be defeated when sent to the Senate if Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s “net neutrality” amendment remained a part of it. When asked if the removal of the amendment would increase the bill’s chances of success Waxman and his office, however, remained silent on the issue.

The Federal Communications Commission’s rules to restrict Internet service providers (ISPs) from managing traffic — a regulation called “net neutrality” — was pushed forward by the Democratic commissioners of the FCC and took effect in November, despite a GOP-led campaign to overturn the regulation.

Blackburn’s amendment would restrict the FCC from imposing network-neutrality conditions on wireless companies that purchase licenses to spectrum reallocated by the 2005 Digital Transition and Public Safety Act.

The bill’s full approval in the GOP-controlled House would send it to the Democrat-controlled Senate, where Democratic senators John Kerry and Al Franken are committed defenders of the regulations.

Waxman’s office did not return The Daily Caller’s several requests for comment on if the removal of Blackburn’s amendment would raise the chances of the bill’s approval in the Senate.

Waxman’s spokesman told TheDC on Friday that they would ask the congressman for comment, but neglected to reply to during a follow up request.

A GOP staffer told The Daily Caller that the full House Energy and Commerce Committee could debate the bill later this week.

The FCC is one of two agencies — the other being the National Telecommunications Information Administration — that regulates the use of spectrum in the United States.

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 currently gives the FCC the authority to regulate only wire and radio communications, not wireless communications.

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