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House E&C to Mark Up Broadband Bills

The full House Energy & Commerce Committee has scheduled a full markup for more than a dozen bills Thursday (July 12), including two broadband related bills -- H.R. 3994, the Advancing Critical Connectivity Expands Service, Small Businesses Resources, Opportunities, Access, and Data Based on Assessed Need and Demand (ACCESS BROADBAND) Act, and H.R. 4881, the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018.

A full committee markup is where the committee amends a bill if necessary and votes on whether to report it favorably to the full House for a vote.

The Communications Subcommittee favorably reported out the two broadband bills to the full committee last month, and the full committee is expected to follow suit Thursday, perhaps with minor modifications, said a committee source.

H.R. 3994 would create an Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth within the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, which is the White House's chief telecom policy advisor, while H.R. 4881 would direct the FCC to create a task force to "meet the connectivity and technology needs of precision agriculture in the United States." Those are broadband-enabled technologies that allow farmers to collect data in real time on cropland and ranch land.

Also on the docket for markup is H.R. 5709, the Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement (PIRATE) Act. That bill boost fines and enforcement against pirate radio broadcasters, who can represent a threat to licensed broadcasters and the life-saving information they provide, bill sponsor Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.), vice chairman of the subcommittee, has said. That, too, is expected to have no trouble making it to the House floor for a vote.