The Federal Scene 

March updates

03.29.19 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it will begin accepting the first round of applications for ReConnect, the rural e-Connectivity pilot program, on April 23, 2019. In March 2018, Congress provided $600 million to the USDA to expand broadband infrastructure and services in rural America, and the USDA is making available up to $200 million in grants, $200 million in loan and grant combinations and $200 million in low-interest loans. | press release

03.18.19 - The FCC released its FY 2020 budget estimates to Congress, requesting $335,660,000 in budget authority from regulatory fee offsetting collections. The FCC said this budget request is $3,340,000 less than the FY 2019 budget and will be used to support the following strategic goals for FY 2020: closing the digital divide; promoting innovation; protecting consumers and public safety; and reforming the FCC’s processes.

03.14.19 - Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) introduced bipartisan legislation entitled the “Improving Broadband Mapping Act” to improve the FCC’s broadband coverage maps.

03.12.19 - Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) announced the formation of a Senate bipartisan net neutrality working group that will focus on crafting a net neutrality proposal to encourage innovation, boost investment and close the digital divide. 

03.11.19 – President Trump released his Fiscal Year 2020 budget. The budget, among other things, funds broadband mapping work and supports continued implementation of the e-Connectivity pilot program. 

03.06.19 - The House Committee on Small Business held a hearing entitled “Rebuilding America: Small Business Perspective” that focused on current infrastructure needs and how small businesses can stand to benefit from a comprehensive plan that includes surface, broadband and water, among others. |  press release

03.05.19 – The Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet announced a  hearing entitled “The Impact of Broadband Investments in Rural America” will be held on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. The hearing will focus on the Federal Communications Commission’s order to improve the quality and expand availability of rural broadband. |  press release

03.05.19 - The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology announced a hearing entitled “Legislating to Safeguard the Free and Open Internet” will be held on March 12, 2019. The hearing will focus on restoring net neutrality protections. | press release

News clips

03.26.19 FTC orders broadband companies to hand over info on privacy practices (The Hill) 
03.26.19 Dem net neutrality bill clears first hurdle in House (The Hill) 
03.26.19 FCC claims on broadband access under scrutiny(The Hill) 
03.18.19House Dems plan April vote on net neutrality bill(The Hill) 
03.13.19 House technology committee leaders ask to postpone 5G spectrum auction (The Hill) 
03.12.19 GOP pushes back on net neutrality bill at testy hearing (The Hill) 
03.06.19Dems rally around new bill to restore net neutrality (The Hill) 
03.04.19Pelosi says Democrats to introduce bill to bring back net neutrality this week (The Hill)