H.R. 3675: Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act of 2013, as amended

H.R. 3675

Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act of 2013, as amended

Date
March 11, 2014 (113th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Tuesday, March 11, 2014, the House will consider H.R. 3675, the Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act of 2013, as amended, under a suspension of the rules.  The bill was introduced on December 9, 2013 by Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), and referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, which ordered the bill reported, as amended, by voice vote.

Bill Summary

H.R. 3675 amends Title I of the Communications Act of 1934 in order to improve the processes of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and to provide for greater transparency and efficiency in the procedures followed by the agency.  Primarily, this legislation requires the FCC to complete a rulemaking proceeding and adopt procedural changes to its rules to maximize opportunities for public participation and efficient decision-making.  Included in this are requirements that the FCC: 1) set minimum comment periods for comment and reply comment; 2) establish policies concerning the submission of extensive new comments, data, or reports towards the end of the comment period; 3) establish policies regarding treatment of comments; 4) establish procedures for publishing the status of open rulemaking proceedings and proposed orders, decisions, reports, or actions on review; 5) establishing deadlines for petitions and guidelines for the disposition of petitions; and 6) establishing procedures for the inclusion of specific language of the proposed rule or amendment in a notice of proposed rulemaking.  This legislation requires the FCC, one year after enactment, to conduct an inquiry seeking public comment into how the Commission should make additional changes, and directs the Commission to provide for other enhanced transparency mechanisms, including enhanced access to information on the Commission’s website and the development of a consumer complaint database.  Finally, this legislation amends sunshine laws to permit more than two Commissioners to meet in a non-public setting, subject to disclosures and other procedural safeguards, and extends the application of the Anti-deficiency Act to the Universal Service Program until September 30, 2016.

Background

The communications and technology sector has been growing rapidly, and is among the most competitive and innovative sectors in the economy.[1]  In 2012 alone, the industry invested $68 billion to deploy broadband infrastructure, and has invested more than $1.2 trillion to upgrade networks since 1996.[2]  However, Congress has long had concerns with the processes and procedures of the Federal Communications Commission and the negative impacted that flawed FCC processes have on consumers, the industry, and the economy.[3]  Though progress has been made, H.R. 3675 will ensure that reforms remain in place from one administration to the next.[4] 



[2] Id. at 6.

[3] Id. at 7.

[4] Id. at 7.

Cost

CBO estimates that implementing this legislation as reported “would increase costs by $197 million over the 2014-2024 period.”[1]  CBO estimates that net spending subject to appropriation would not be significant, assuming appropriation of necessary amounts.  Committee staff made a minor bipartisan change to the bill to eliminate the increase in costs and bring the bill into compliance with cut-go rules. The version that will be voted on has no increase in spending in the five and ten year budget windows according to informal guidance from CBO.

Additional Information

For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.