Stevens Addresses Communications Reform Bill

September 21, 2006. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) spoke briefly at a luncheon in Washington DC hosted by the Progress and Freedom Foundation (PFF).

Sen. Ted StevensSen. Stevens (at right) said that the broad communications reform bill that the Senate Commerce Committee (SCC) amended and approved on June 28, 2006, will not be approved by the full Senate before it recesses for the November elections.

This bill is HR 5252 RS [287 pages in PDF], as reported in the Senate. It is titled both the "Advanced Telecommunications and Opportunities Reform Act" and the "Communications Act of 2006". See also, stories in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,404, July 5,2006.

He added that he hopes that the Senate will take up the bill when it returns around November 13.

He concluded, optimistically, that "it is possible still to get it passed".

Brian Roberts, head of Comcast, was the keynote speaker at the luncheon.

Sen. Stevens also spoke in the Senate on September 21, 2006. He summarized the bill's major provisions and benefits. He also said that "There is wide support for the Senate Communications Bill. Several days ago a letter signed by over 100 companies was sent to our leaders and made available. These are companies involved in the manufacturing, design and construction of communications networks. These companies expressed support for the bill because it encourages broadband deployment. They support the bill's lighter regulatory approach to net neutrality. I ask unanimous consent that the letter be placed in the record."

He added that "There has been much debate on this issue in the Senate Commerce Committee, in House Committees, on the House floor, in the newspapers and in the blogosphere. But some Senators have prevented full debate on this issue on the Senate floor. It is time now for the Senate to allow the debate on this bill to start.  America needs this bill."

Sen. Stevens is the Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee.

Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), the Chairman of the House Commerce Committee, which approved its own version of HR 5252 in April of 2006, stated in a release that "Senator Stevens was exactly right about the benefits of telecommunications legislation currently before the Senate. The Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement Act will greatly expand consumer choice, especially for TV programming, and likely lead to lower prices for many communication services. Democrats in the House understood this when 106 voted for it. I hope Democrats in the Senate will soon see the light and help pass this important bill."

See also, story titled "Amendment by Amendment Summary of Full Committee Mark Up of COPE Act" in TLJ Daily T-Mail Alert No. 1,360, April 28, 2006. The House amended and approved this bill on June 8, 2006. See, story titled "House Approves COPE Act, Without Network Neutrality Amendment" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,388, June 9, 2006.

In addition, Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), the Chairman of the HCC's Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, stated that "I applaud the leadership of Senator Stevens to move this very important legislation that could save families across the nation over $450 for what they spend each year on Internet, phone and cable services.  The time is now for the Senate to move this bill that will inject more competition for video services in our communities, all the while unleashing new technologies and services at lower prices."