McMorris Rodgers Helps Advance Permitting Reform Package to Speed up Broadband Deployment

May 17, 2023
Broadband
Press

Washington, D.C. — Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) today led the House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee in marking up a comprehensive permitting reform package to break down the regulatory barriers that are preventing broadband deployment to unserved communities in Eastern Washington and across the country. 

The subcommittee advanced a total of twenty-eight bills to the full committee for consideration, including Cathy’s Wildfire Communications Resiliency Act. This legislation creates a categorical exclusion from the National Environmental Policy Act and National Historic Preservation Act that allows for the expedited rebuilding or improving of broadband infrastructure that was damaged or destroyed by a wildfire. 

NOTE: These twenty-eight pieces of legislation will now move to the full House Energy and Commerce Committee for further markup. If they pass the full committee, then they could move to the House Floor for a vote.

Cathy delivered the following opening remarks at today’s markup. Excerpts and highlights are below:

REDUCING UNNECESSARY BARRIERS TO BROADBAND DEPLOYMENT

“High-speed broadband is a critical part of today’s modern economy, yet some Americans still do not have reliable Internet access.

“We need effective reforms to accelerate the build out of high-speed Internet and the bills we are considering today will speed the deployment of broadband infrastructure and ensure that federal funding is promoting connectivity rather than becoming government waste.

“We are leading on proposals that take meaningful steps to reduce unnecessary barriers to broadband deployment.

“Many of our bills have strong bipartisan support and I’m hopeful we will continue to garner more support for all these bills.

“My colleagues are committed to getting this job done.

“For the American people, it will mean better and faster internet access so they can build a business, communicate with their loved ones, advance their education, improve the world around them, and so much more.

“The money is there—Congress has made the investment.”

CONNECTING MORE AMERICANS

“Now, we need to take the next step to roll back regulations to get reliable broadband to every American more quickly.

“These measures will ensure that we prioritize getting broadband to rural, unserved communities that need it most by making sure federal regulations don’t prevent Americans from getting connected.

“Committee Republicans have introduced these proposals for the last two Congresses and even the Biden administration has put out a permitting action plan to roll back permitting requirements to ensure effective use of the billions of dollars dedicated for infrastructure buildout.

THE WILDFIRE COMMUNICATIONS RESILIENCY ACT

“We’ll hear about many important solutions today that will ensure effective broadband deployment, and I’m pleased to be leading on the Wildfire Communications Resiliency Act which streamlines the deployment of broadband projects to repair or replace communications facilities damaged by wildfires.

“In the aftermath of a wildfire, it can be vital—even lifesaving—to be able to quickly restore communications networks so those impacted by and responding to the fire can get the resources they need.

“This process should not be slowed down by cumbersome permitting issues and environmental reviews.

“The bill is just one of many good pieces of legislation up for review today.”

SPECTRUM AUCTION AUTHORITY

“We are also considering legislation today to extend the FCC’s spectrum auction authority, which expired in March for the first time ever.

“My goal is to continue working on a broader deal to extend spectrum auction authority longer term and provide certainty to the FCC and the communications industry, fund important priorities like the rip and replace program and Next Generation 9-1-1, and work with my colleagues across the aisle and in the Senate to make this a bipartisan deal that gets signed into law.

UNLEASHING AMERICAN INNOVATION

“I want to thank the sponsors of these bills—both Republicans and Democrats—for their work.

“I’m hopeful that my colleagues across the aisle will consider working with us to make all of these solutions bipartisan.

“These bills will help unleash American innovation, deploy broadband across the country, and make America more secure.

“I look forward to moving our solutions through the regular order process.”

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