Public Safety Alliance Welcomes Nation's State Attorneys' Generals Formal, Bipartisan Support; Obama Administration Officials Continue to Advocate Immediate Priority for Allocation & Funding for Network
August 31, 2011, WASHINGTON, D.C. - In the wake of last week's Virginia earthquake and Hurricane Irene, the Public Safety Alliance (PSA) pointed to the release of the 9/11 Commission Report Card today as further evidence of the immediate need for Congress to pass legislation that would; (1) allocate the D block spectrum within the 700 MHz band to public safety, (2) provide up to $11.75 billion in funding derived from incentive-based and other spectrum auctions, and (3) provide for a strong, independent governance structure with public safety, state and local government representation.
The 9/11 Report Card was released today by 9/11 Commission bipartisan co-chairs, former Governor Thomas Kean (R-NJ) and former Congressman Lee Hamilton (D-NY). The Report Card states, "We support the immediate allocation
As Governor of Pennsylvania when one of the 9/11 terror attacks on the U.S. resulted in a plane crash outside of the rural, western Pennsylvania town of Shanksville, Tom Ridge took up the cause in becoming the nation's first Secretary of Homeland Security. Recently, he also called on Congress to act now to allocate D block and ensure the build out of a dedicated, nationwide and interoperable public safety broadband network by saying Congress' 10 years of inaction have been "a bloody outrage." Likewise, a bipartisan group of 42 of our Nation's States Attorney Generals signed a letter to House and Senate leaders requesting passage of bipartisan legislation to allocate the D block to public safety and finally meet the needs of our first responders.
"It should be clear to all in Congress that there is a real solution that starts with allocation of D block spectrum to public safety," said APCO International President and former fire chief Gregg Riddle. "It does require funding, and a new, strong and independent governance structure to assure expert oversight, accountability and realization of a nationwide, sustainable and fully interoperable public safety broadband network."
"As a public safety communications director in coastal Virginia, I can assure you that last week's earthquake and hurricane provide too many real-life examples of why public safety needs this dedicated, nationwide broadband network, and, with all due respect to our colleagues in the commercial sector, why our Nation's day-to-day and critical emergency communications cannot rely on the commercial network infrastructure," added APCO International First Vice President Terry Hall of York County, Virginia. "In calling for the D block with funding since 2008, public safety has shared these concerns, experience, expertise and a multitude of real-life examples with Members of Congress, the Administration and others. It's time for Congress to act and help us fix it now. What more do they need to convince them to pass bipartisan legislation, like Senators Hutchison and Rockefeller's bill, S.911; The Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act of 2011?"
S.911 recently passed out of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 21-4, and currently awaits Senate floor action. Recent reports indicate that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are not expected to bring S.911 to the floor of the Senate for a vote before the 10th anniversary, as Senators Rockefeller and Hutchison had previously called for, and as all major public safety and state and local government groups have urged.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee has not yet offered or taken up legislation this year on this matter, though, Congressman Waxman and Congresswoman Eshoo have circulated a staff discussion draft that is very similar to S.911. As well, House Homeland Security Chairman Peter King and Ranking Member Bennie Thompson introduced H.R. 607, which includes allocation of D block with funding derived from other spectrum auction proceeds. H.R. 607 currently has 45 bipartisan co-sponsors, including several Members of the House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee. Additionally, House E&C Members John Dingell and Gene Green introduced H.R. 2482 as a House companion to S.911, too, and it currently has four co-sponsors.