Key Vote Letter Supporting H.R. 3309, the “Federal Communications Commission Process Reform"
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region, strongly supports H.R. 3309, the “Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act,” which would improve the transparency and predictability of the decision-making process at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
H.R. 3309 recognizes the need to make the FCC’s current regulatory process more consistent, efficient, transparent, and reflective of today’s dynamic and competitive communications marketplace. This bill would require the FCC to survey the marketplace via a Notice of Inquiry or similar proceeding before commencing a new rulemaking. For rules with an “economically significant impact,” this legislation would require the FCC to identify the problem that it is trying to solve, such as a market failure or actual consumer harm, and show that the benefits of the rule justify its costs. This bill also would require that any conditions imposed by the FCC on transactions must be within the agency’s authority.
The Chamber also strongly opposes Amendment #5, expected to be offered by Representative Eshoo. This mendment would require broadcasters to collect and make public the confidential and constitutionally protected ember lists of entities that sponsor “political programming.” The amendment would define “political programming” in sweeping terms, and would even apply where an entity makes a communication concerning “a national egislative issue of public importance.” The amendment’s manifest purpose is to impose exceptional burdens on speech that lies at the very core of the First Amendment. Equally troubling, the amendment contains a donor disclosure threshold ($10,000) that would undoubtedly burden the business community, while essentially exempting unions from its requirements. As such, the amendment appears to burden speech based on the identity of the speaker, in violation of the First Amendment. Decisions regarding the regulation of political speech must be carefully measured against the extent to which such restrictions and regulations will infringe or impair First Amendment rights.
The Chamber strongly supports H.R. 3309, and strongly opposes the Eshoo amendment. The Chamber may consider including votes on, or in relation to, H.R. 3309, including the Eshoo amendment, in our annual How They Voted scorecard.
R. Bruce Josten