The authoritative news source for communications regulation
No Deal Thursday

Carr Takes No Side in Senate's FCC Spectrum Auction Authority Renewal Impasse

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said Thursday he’s “not weighing in at all” in favor of either of the dueling proposals under Senate consideration for temporarily extending the FCC’s spectrum auction authority, amid the continued impasse that led to the mandate lapsing last week (see 2303100084). Senators left town for the weekend Thursday without a deal to pass a House-approved bill to extend the FCC’s authority until May 19 (HR-1108) or a rival proposal that would renew it through Sept. 30 (S-650), meaning there won’t be further action until at least next week. The Senate is expected to return Tuesday, while the House will return from more than a week-long recess Wednesday.

Start A Trial

Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and S-650 sponsor Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., separately told us they hadn’t reached a deal despite further talks this week. “We’re going to keep working through” the disagreement into next week in hopes of reaching a compromise, Cantwell said. She emphasized the Democratic and GOP leaders of both the House and Senate Commerce committees agreed to the May 19 deadline laid out in HR-1108.

We’ve had discussions with different House offices about our interest in” setting the new expiration date at Sept. 30 rather than what the lower chamber agreed to in HR-1108, Rounds said. “We’re hoping that one of those House offices feel the same way that we do about the national security” implications of delaying a deal on a broader spectrum bill until DOD can complete an ongoing analysis on relocating its systems off the 3.1-3.45 GHz (see 2303090074).

I leave it to Congress to sort out the timeline” of “how long the FCC auction authority should be brought back for,” Carr told reporters after the FCC’s Thursday meeting. “It is important, regardless of which way you go on that particular issue, that we restore” that mandate “because it is vital for not just economic leadership but also national security leadership.” He believes “reasonable people can have different views on specific” spectrum bands “that should be for commercial or federal users.”

It’s “important that we continue to stand up for the decisions” Congress “made that the FCC is the lead agency when it comes to spectrum decisions,” Carr said. The commission needs to continue being “the lead player on these issues” and “the general movement of authority and leadership from the FCC … regardless of the politics of the administration is not with the statutory cuts the Congress has made in terms of the allocation of leadership on these issues.”

It's “not good” that the FCC currently has no spectrum auction remit for the first time in “three decades,” Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said. The commission “delivered tremendous value for the American people” via spectrum auctions and there needs to be “steady pipeline of spectrum for commercial markets and I don’t want to cede that leadership to any other country out there.”