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Walden: Broadband Stimulus Oversight to Be Priority

Newly named House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden, who will take up that post in January, signaled Thursday that one of his oversight priorities is the government's broadband stimulus investments.

"Billions of dollars have been allocated to expand broadband in unserved and underserved areas across the country," he said in an e-mail about his appointment Thursday. "With that much money going out so quickly, taxpayers need to know how it's being spent and what they're getting for it. We will conduct oversight on those expenditures and will also review the existing regulatory policies and new regulations under consideration by various agencies."

The Commerce Department and USDA together are giving out about $7 billion for broadband deployment, adoption and education as part of the President's/Congress' stimulus package.

That was among a handful of items on the e-mail, which focused on what his election meant to Oregon. He pointed out that communications and tech industries account for almost 10,000 jobs in his district (the Second ) and more than 50,000 in the state.

"The challenge of delivering high-speed Internet, broadband, and technological capabilities to communities and schools all across rural America and Oregon will be handled in this subcommittee," he said. One of those challenges will be reform of the Universal Service Fund, which the FCC has proposed migrating to a broadband subsidy. A reform bill was introduced by the current chair of the subcommittee, Rick Boucher (D-Va.), who was defeated for re-election.