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White House Concerned With FCC Budget Cuts

The White House has threatened to veto the House appropriations
bill that includes funding for the FCC, one of the reasons being the cuts that
agency took in the budgeting process it says could hurt its ability to oversee
mergers and reform the Universal Service Fund.

That is the bill that passed the appropriations committeeearlier this month
and is being prepped for consideration by the full House.

The bill covers appropriations for a number of agencies
including the IRS and OMB, which actually released the veto advisory (which
includes criticism of a 10% cut in OMB's own budget). Under the FCC sections,
OMB praises the auction receipts the FCC will have access to, but said added:
"However, the bill also reduces regular appropriated funding for FCC to
$323 million. Funding for FCC is budget neutral and without the proper amount
of resources the agency would find it increasingly difficult to manage its
responsibilities, such as supporting the build-out of public safety
communications networks, overseeing mergers and spectrum transactions, and
reforming the Universal Service Fund."

The FCC had asked Congress for a 2% increase from $340
million to $347 million -- essentially flat when adjusted for inflation,
despite increasing workloads in many areas.

"The Administration strongly opposes the bill,"
said OMB. "If the president were presented with H.R. 6020, his senior
advisors would recommend that he veto the bill," it said.