Walden: Public-safety broadband bill may not happen until year end
A key House Republican this week said that he will introduce legislation that would establish a public-safety broadband network, but the bill may not be unveiled until the end of the year.
Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, issued his statement after negotiating this week with leading Democrats on the subcommittee.
“For five months, we have been negotiating in earnest to find common ground on spectrum reform,” Walden said in a statement. “I appreciate the progress we are making, and we will continue working in good faith to develop legislation that creates jobs, establishes a public safety network, and reduces the deficit. Members on both sides of the aisle are committed to getting the policy right, which is why we continue to avoid any arbitrary deadlines for action.
“However, I have set a personal goal to advance legislation by the end of this year, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to achieve that goal with the strongest, most effective bill we can produce.”
Walden’s statement was a disappointment to many public-safety representatives that were expecting the Oregon lawmaker to introduce his legislation this week. Walden has been outspoken in his belief that the 700 MHz D Block should be auctioned to commercial operators instead of being reallocated to public safety, as most first-responder organizations want.
With this in mind, most public-safety representatives did not expect Walden to introduce a bill they would fully support. However, they were hoping that Walden would offer some piece of legislation soon, so that the reallocation of the D Block — a matter that has been the subject of numerous hearings on Capitol Hill during the past two yeasr — could be debated and voted upon in the House.
In the Senate, a bill that would reassign the D Block to public safety — S.911 — has been approved by the Senate Commerce Committee but has not been scheduled to be considered for a vote by the full Senate.