GOP Urges Dems to Hold “Long Overdue” NTIA Oversight Hearing

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House Energy and Commerce Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Leader Bob Latta (R-OH), urged Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Communications and Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-PA) to hold an oversight hearing to review ongoing National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) activities and programs. Specifically, they ask for a review of the appropriations NTIA has received for broadband deployment.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee hasn’t had an oversight hearing for NTIA since 2018, according to the lawmakers. The Senate voted Tuesday to confirm Alan Davidson as NTIA administrator, Inside Towers reported. NTIA is in charge of distributing $48 billion to states for new broadband deployments. The lawmakers made their request on Wednesday.

“The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 provided over $1.5 billion dollars in funding for three broadband pilot programs and codified the Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth, which was recently established at the agency,” wrote McMorris Rodgers and Latta in a letter to Pallone and Doyle. “This office will be critical in tracking the construction, use of, and access to any broadband infrastructure built using federal support, and coordinating broadband funding programs across federal agencies to ensure federal funds are spent efficiently and in a non-duplicative manner.”

McMorris Rodgers and Latta also said given that the federal government provides “hundreds of billions of dollars” to support broadband access — from the departments of Agriculture, Treasury and Education, as well as the FCC — it’s “imperative that we understand how NTIA plans to track and coordinate these programs effectively.” 

The Republicans also want to review the NTIA’s role in managing spectrum disputes between federal agencies, including the recent 5G fight between the FAA and the FCC over wireless use of C-band.

A Democratic committee spokesperson told Politico the committee had “long planned” to have Davidson testify once he was confirmed. “We look forward to hearing from NTIA in the coming months.”

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief

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