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FCC Process Reform to Senate

Passage of bipartisan House measure was expected

The House measure to reform how the FCC conducts its business is on its way to the Senate.

The House passed H.R. 3675, the FCC Process Reform Act, with bipartisan support late Tuesday.

House Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chair Oregon Republican Rep. Greg Walden wrote the bill to streamline the FCC’s processes and bring more transparency to its actions, saying, “We must not weigh industry down with needless red tape and delay.”

We’ve reported the bill, among other things, requires the FCC to seek public input and adopt rules that set minimum comment periods for rulemakings, and set timelines on certain types of proceedings, such as the processing of license applications and large merger reviews. The bill also requires the FCC to conduct an inquiry into reform of more complex issues, such as commission review and voting procedures and whether it’s feasible to publish text of items to be considered before the commission votes on them.

More than two commissioners could meet to discuss an issue and a majority of commissioners, not just the chairman, could place items on the monthly meeting agenda for a vote if the measure is passed.

The agency would have a year to make any changes.

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai said he hopes that the measure passed yesterday, combined with a bill that consolidates the agency’s required reports, H.R. 2844, which passed the House in September, would soon be enacted. “Together, these bills recognize the need to modernize the FCC to reflect our dynamic, converged communications marketplace. And they would eliminate outdated mandates on the agency, streamline its operations, and make it more accountable to the public.”