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House Dems Seek Delay of Wireless Infrastructure Vote

Energy & Commerce Committee Democrats are asking the FCC to delay its vote on a declaratory ruling, saying not to do so could put American's health and safety at risk.  

The FCC plans to vote on a "5G Upgrade" order next week (June 9) to clarify some of the steps the FCC has taken, championed by commissioner Brendan Carr, to speed tower citing, upgrades, and other elements of wireless network buildouts.  

1. "Clarify when the FCC's 60-day shot clock on localities reviews of a wireless builder's documents.  

2. "Clarify what equipment can go on existing structures.  

3. "Spell out distinctions between concealment elements--having to make a tower look like a tree or a flagpole--and other conditions related to aesthetics, and clarifying that aesthetic conditions can't be enforced "in a way that negates our other rules that promote streamlined approval."  

Looking to delay a vote, the House Democrats invoked COVID-19.  

“We are especially troubled by the burden responding to this Declaratory Ruling will place on local governments that are rightfully focused right now on combating the ongoing coronavirus pandemic,” they wrote. “Likewise, we worry that if this Declaratory Ruling does not benefit from meaningful input from local governments, the result could undermine municipalities’ ability to balance their responsibilities to public safety and community design with their desire to ensure access to affordable wireless networks and the next generation services.” 

But they took the argument even farther: "“If local governments are forced to respond to this Declaratory Ruling instead of focusing on their public health and safety responses, it very well may put Americans health and safety at risk," they said.  

The letter was signed by two dozen committee members, led by full committee chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Communications Subcommittee chair Mike Doyle (D-Pa.).

That take on the FCC vote was in stark contrast to Republicans, who praised the item.