House Energy and Commerce Committee Sets Oversight Agenda

NRB | February 16, 2023 | Advocacy

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has released a new document detailing its oversight priorities for the 118th Congress—including repeat issues from the last Congress as well as new areas reflecting the intentions of new leadership.

As the committee tasked with maintaining America’s global competitive edge in energy, technology, and healthcare, the oversight agenda of the House Energy and Commerce Committee includes a robust portfolio of issues impacting the broadcast, digital, and telecommunications industries. Under the full committee leadership of Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee—responsible for conducting hearings and oversight of any matter under the jurisdiction of the full committee—is led by Chair Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), Vice Chair Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.), and Ranking Member Kathy Castor (D-Fla.).

Communications-related priorities in the newly updated plan include:

Consumer Privacy and Data Security
This brand-new section summarizes several of the signature issues that will occupy the Committee under Chair McMorris Rodgers’ leadership. This agenda promises to examine:

  • Security of information collected by businesses and service providers;
  • Privacy and cybersecurity policies surrounding blockchain technologies;
  • The impact of social media on the mental health of youth;
  • Technology companies’ policies and procedures regulating publication, censorship, claimed misinformation, and the role of the government in such policies;
  • Data collection by social media, technology companies, and data brokers, including TikTok and other companies with ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

Monitoring Key Regulatory Agencies
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) both fall under the oversight jurisdiction of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Notably, the Committee adopted new language describing plans to conduct oversight on the FCC’s efforts to “reverse the reclassification of Broadband Internet Access Service as a telecommunications service subject to Title II of the Communications Act of 1934,” while keeping an eye on “how the FTC conducts its business while not creating undue burdens for legitimate businesses, its determination of priorities, and the need, if any, for refinement of its authorities.”

National Telecommunications and Information Administration
The Committee will conduct oversight of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the administration of broadband grant programs, and the allocation of resources for keeping pace with the demands of modern technology.

Spectrum Management
The Committee will “evaluate spectrum management policies to ensure efficient use of the public airwaves for innovative communications services” and examine current plans to ensure maximum deployment and innovation.

Availability of Broadband
The Committee will investigate current regulatory processes to determine whether they are helping or hurting broadband deployment. In particular, state and federal permitting processes will be scrutinized in addition to the billion-dollar Universal Service Fund and the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) grant program.

The Committee will work to ensure that there is continued growth and investment in the Internet.

Public Safety Communications
The Committee will investigate the fulfillment of first responders’ needs and the effectiveness of emergency communications services.

Other oversight areas will include origins of the coronavirus pandemic, the illicit fentanyl crisis, healthcare affordability, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issues, energy policy, autonomous vehicles, competitiveness in U.S. manufacturing, and more.

The NRB will continue to monitor the activities of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the 118th Congress and report on key updates.

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