Originally published: December 13, 2011
Last updated: December 22, 2011 - 2:03pm
The Republican payroll tax extension bill, which also includes spectrum incentive auction legislation, passed the House of Representatives.
The legislation, which passed 234-193, essentially incorporates the Republican House version of legislation that authorizes the Federal Communications Commission to compensate broadcasters for returning spectrum that will then be re-auctioned for wireless broadband use. A handful of Republicans voted against the bill, and about the same number of Democrats voted for it. The Senate is unlikely to pass the payroll tax bill in its current form, and the president has pledged to veto it. Since Democrats have major issues with the spectrum bill, it may have to modified if it is to be part of an ultimately acceptable package, or deleted and voted on as a stand-alone at a later date.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski called passage of the spectrum incentive auction authority legislation a major achievement, but still has issues with the bill as do many Democrats. He is concerned about portions of the bill he said could "tie the agency's hands in ways that could be counterproductive." He also addressed the bill’s prohibition on allocating any more of that freed-up spectrum for unlicensed wireless. "Precluding the FCC from adopting innovation-enhancing policies around unlicensed spectrum could threaten U.S. global leadership in spectrum-related innovation," he said in a statement. "The same is true for the bill's restrictions on the Commission's ability to construct band plans and structure auctions in ways that maximize the value of licensed spectrum."