The Federal Scene 

March updates

03.30.20 - The USDA  announced in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it extended the deadline for broadband ReConnect program applications from March 31, 2020, until April 15, 2020.

03.27.20 - President Trump  signed the  Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which among other things includes: $25 million for RUS’s telemedicine and distance learning program; $100 million for the USDA’s ReConnect program for rural broadband deployment; and $200 million for the FCC to support telehealth and telemedicine services.

03.24.20 - President Trump  signed the Broadband DATA Act, which requires the FCC to collect and disseminate granular broadband service availability data from wired, fixed-wireless, satellite and mobile broadband providers. Trump also signed the  Secure 5G and Beyond Act of 2020, which requires the president to develop a strategy to ensure the security of next generation mobile telecommunications systems and infrastructure in the United States, and assist allies and strategic partners in maximizing the security of next generation mobile telecommunications systems and infrastructure. 

03.18.20 - President Trump has nominated Commissioner O’Rielly for another term. If confirmed, the term is for five years, from July 1, 2019.

03.13.20 - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued an opinion, in the case addressing a petition for review filed by the Irregulators, et al., of the Commission’s separations freeze order. The court dismissed the petitioners’ claims because they lack standing to challenge the FCC's order.

03.12.20 - President Trump signed into law, HR 4998, the Secure and Trusted Communications Network Act of 2019, which prohibits the use of federal funds to purchase equipment from companies that pose a national security threat and creates a reimbursement program to remove and replace equipment in use that was manufactured by entities posing unacceptable national security risk.

03.12.20 - The USDA announced it has extended the deadline for broadband ReConnect program applications from March 16, 2020, until March 31, 2020. In December 2019, the USDA announced it was making available an additional $550 million in ReConnect funding in 2020.

03.11.20 - The House Committee on Appropriations held a hearing on the FCC’s budget request for FY 2021. Chairman Pai and Commissioner Rosenworcel testified.

03.11.20 - The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation held a nominations hearing on March 11, 2020, to consider several presidential nominations, including that of John Chase Johnson, for inspector general of the FCC.

03.10.20 - The Senate passed the Broadband DATA Act on March 10, 2020, which requires the FCC to collect and disseminate granular broadband service availability data from wired, fixed-wireless, satellite and mobile broadband providers. The bill awaits approval by President Trump.

03.10.20 - The Senate Committee on Appropriations’ Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government held a hearing on the FCC’s budget request for FY 2021. Chairman Pai and Commissioners Rosenworcel, Carr and Starks testified. 

News clips

03.30.20FCC chief proposes $200M telehealth program to fight coronavirus (The Hill)
03.23.20Senators urge FCC, DOJ to combat coronavirus robocalls (The Hill)
03.19.20Senators urge FCC to ensure all students have access to internet during school closures (The Hill)