Vol. 17, No. 45
November 22, 2021
House Passes Build Back Better Spending Bill
The House of Representatives voted last Friday to pass President Joe Biden’s $1.75 trillion economic (Build Back Better) plan by a vote of 220-213, after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) delayed a vote with a floor speech that lasted more than eight hours. The bill now moves to the Senate for further consideration.

There is additional broadband funding tied into this legislation. The current House version includes:
  • $475 million to NTIA for a broadband device program and $5 million to educate the public on the availability of the grant
  • $295 million to NTIA for pilot projects for public private partnerships to increase access to broadband in urban areas including for communities of color and lower and middle income communities
  • $300 million for the FCC’s existing Emergency Connectivity Fund
  • $100 million for the FCC to educate the public about the various broadband programs
  • $7 million for the Secretary of Commerce to create a Future of Telecommunications Council to advise Congress on the development and adoption of 6G and other advanced wireless communications technologies.
Commissioner Carr to Hold Telehealth Roundtable
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr will host a virtual roundtable on December 6, focusing on the FCC’s telehealth initiatives and the benefits they can bring to communities across the country.

During the roundtable, two sets of panelists, including recipients of funding from the FCC’s Connected Care Pilot Program and COVID-19 telehealth initiatives, will discuss the opportunities and lessons they have learned from setting up, expanding and sustaining their telehealth programs.
House to Hold Hearings on Big Tech Accountability
On December 1, the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee will hold a legislative hearing focused on holding Big Tech companies accountable by reforming Section 230. The Subcommittee will discuss what it will take to recalibrate the law in a way that better incentivizes responsible actions by tech companies.

Then, on December 9, the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee will hold a legislative hearing on an array of proposals to enhance transparency, promote online safety, and hold Big Tech accountable.

Additional details, including the legislation to be discussed, will be announced the week before each of the hearings.
Senate Commerce Holds Rosenworcel Hearing
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held an executive session on November 17 to consider the nomination of Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel to be an FCC commissioner for another term.

Rosenworcel prepared a statement and discussed accomplishments under her leadership, such as the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, which currently has 7.5 million enrolled households, and the launch of the Emergency Connectivity Fund to help close the homework gap. She also said the FCC has made historic investments in telehealth technology and successfully started the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement Program. Additionally, she said 100% of the country must have access to fast, affordable broadband and there needs to be greater coordination across federal, state and tribal governments.