Pallone to GOP: Work with Democrats to Boost Broadband Deployment
Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) delivered the following opening remarks at a Communications and Technology Subcommittee hearing on “Defining and Mapping Broadband Coverage in America:”
Thank you, Madam Chairman. Three months ago to the day, this subcommittee held a hearing on this same topic. We heard from witnesses how in these uncertain economic times deploying more secure, high-speed internet means providing more opportunities for more people. But we also saw at the last hearing that Republicans had unilaterally changed a bill that had been bipartisan in the last Congress. We asked at the time that the Republicans step back from their partisan maneuvering.
Yet here we are 90 days later repeating that same hearings, while we still haven’t had a single hearing on important issues like net neutrality, privacy, or oversight of this administration. And we haven’t made progress on broadband deployment even though Democratic members of this committee have introduced a number of good bills that would help deployment.
One of our bills—called the LIFT America Act—would use a reverse auction to allocate $40 billion on new broadband deployment across the entire country. Our proposal not only would create new opportunities for millions of Americans, it would prioritize schools, libraries, and 9-1-1 services.
Congressman Loebsack has also introduced a commonsense bill that would direct the FCC to improve its broadband data. We heard at the last hearing about all the problems with the FCC’s data. We also heard unanimous support for Mr. Loebsack’s proposal.
Congressman Ruiz has introduced legislation that would make sure people living in Indian Country don’t get left behind and aren’t ignored when it comes to broadband deployment. We should follow Congressman Ruiz’s example and do everything we can to help those who live on tribal lands.
Finally, Congressmen Welch and McKinley put forward a bill that would let us better compare the broadband services in rural areas to those in urban areas.
But for some reason, the Republican leadership on this committee refused to recognize any of these bills for our hearing today. In fact, this is the second week in a row in which this subcommittee is holding hearings on topics addressed by our bills, with no acknowledgment of the significant benefits that these bills would bring to the American people. These Democratic proposals address real problems faced by real people and will help improve our nation’s security, opportunity, and connectivity. I hope the Republicans will eventually recognize the importance of these bills, and will begin to work with us in moving them forward.