Bills in both houses of Congress calling for the 700 MHz D Block spectrum to be reallocated for public-safety broadband use failed to pass the committee level, meaning the legislative effort likely will have to be restarted with a new Congress next year.

Federal lawmakers decided to recess earlier than expected this month to embark on the final weeks of campaigning before most seek re-election in November. After being the subject of hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee, a bill sponsored by the committee chairman — Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) — was not considered by the full committee before the recess.

“Needless to say, we’re a bit disappointed that we couldn’t get this out for a vote this session,” said Dick Mirgon, former president of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO). “However, that does not translate in any way into defeat.

“We made significant grounds in the last year, and we exceeded everybody’s expectations about what we could do. We’ve just got to work harder next year when the new Congress comes in.”

In the House of Representatives, legislation that would reallocate the D Block for public-safety use has about 80 co-sponsors, according to numerous sources.

Mirgon said it’s still possible that Congress could pass a law reallocating the D Block during its lame-duck session after the elections but acknowledged that the prospects of that happening are “very unlikely.” However, representatives of first-responder organizations are hopeful that key members of Congress will instruct the FCC to not proceed with plans to auction the spectrum, which is slated for commercial use under existing law.

If D Block legislation is not passed this year, public-safety officials will renew their education efforts on Capitol Hill with the new Congress that will take office next year, Mirgon said.