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Senate Commerce Pitches Spectrum Bill for Supercommittee Deficit Legislation

As expected, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) has officially asked the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to include his spectrum incentive auction bill in any proposed deficit reduction legislation.

The so-called supercommittee was tasked by an August stop-gap appropriations bill with reducing the federal deficit by over $1 trillion dollars.

Rockefellers' bill (S. 911) is projected to raise billions for the treasury as well as pay for an interoperable broadband communications net, one of the 9-11 Commission's recommendations (hence the bill number), and to compensate broadcasters for giving up spectrum to wireless broadband.

In a written request to the committee from Rockefeller and ranking member Kay Bailey Hutchison, the pair points out that the bill passed the committee 21 to 4. It was also made part of the president's jobs bill that was blocked in the Senate, and before that a part of the stop-gap appropriations bill before being excised on procedural grounds.

The senators pitched the bill not only for its deficit reduction potential, which it conceded was what made it most relevant to the supercommittee, but as a job creator and economic driver.

"According to one recent report by the Analysis Group for Mobile Future, reassigning 300 megahertz of spectrum to the mobile broadband marketplace within five years would spur $75 billion in new capital spending, creating more than 300,000 jobs and $230 billion in additional gross domestic product," they wrote. "Plus, the nationwide build-out obligations in S. 911 would lead to enhanced wireless deployment and job growth in rural America -- where too many communities today lack the wireless infrastructure necessary to succeed in our modern economy."

At least a couple of the committee members are well versed in the issue: Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of Commerce's Communications Subcommittee, who introduced his own version of a spectrum auction bill and Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chair of the House Energy & Commerce Committee has said finding more spectrum for wireless, likely through an incentive auction bill,  is a congressional priority.