The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday approved two bills that will impact operations at the Federal Communications Commission.
The committee approved the Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act and the Federal Communications Commission Consolidated Reporting Act.
The bills aim to consolidate reporting requirements at the FCC and improve consistency, predictability and transparency at the agency, according to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Backed by Republicans, the legislation appears to have been crafted, at least in part, to limit burdensome regulations that the GOP often claims threaten to stifle investment and job creation. For example, the FCC would have to "identify a market failure, consumer harm, or regulatory barrier to investment before adopting economically significant rules," according to a press release last year from a House subcommittee. Among other things, the legislation also would require the FCC to issue a Notice of Inquiry before initiating new rulemakings in order to gain a deeper understanding of the communications marketplace.
Republicans in recent times have been critical of some decisions by the Democrat-led FCC, including so-called net neutrality rules that impose a variety of obligations on wireless and landline broadband providers. The fate of those rules will be decided by a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C.
"We hope today's action will be a stepping stone toward a broader initiative to update the nation's laws to reflect today's communications marketplace, and to help our nation meet its broadband investment, deployment and adoption goals," said Walter B. McCormick Jr., president and CEO of the United States Telecom Association, in a statement. "We look forward to working with the committee on these and other initiatives to promote economic growth and job creation."
Congress hasn't enacted major telecommunications reform since the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.