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E&C Dems Say Shutdown Threatens To Delay First Spectrum Auction

As a Senate compromise bill to open the government and raise the debt limit ran into a House version that neither the Senate nor the President will sign, the Democratic members of the House Energy & Commerce Committee warned speaker John Boehner (R-Ill.) that the FCC's January spectrum auction may have to be postponed due to the shutdown.

In that letter, the committee members led by ranking member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) cited that among various problems with issues under its purview.

That January auction would be the first of several auctions to free up spectrum for wireless broadband, though it is not the broadcaster incentive auction, which likely won't be until the end of the year.

Waxman and company, in urging the speaker to allow a vote on a clean bill to reopen the government, warned of the impact on that auction, which like the broadcast incentive auction is meant to help fund a first responder communications network and of an FCC investigation into communications failures related to a very high-profile emergency in the Nation's Capital just blocks from the Hill.

"The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) may be forced to postpone the first spectrum auction for mobile broadband in six years scheduled for January 2014," they wrote, referring to the 2007 auction of 700 MHz spectrum, adding: "Neither the National Telecommunications & Information Administration nor the FCC is able to work with federal, regional and local agencies to investigate possible communications system failures for first responders during the shooting at the Navy Yard last month."

At press time Republicans and Democrats continued to point fingers from the floor and negotiations on the Senate compromise were on hold due to the counter-proposal in the House.