Senate Commerce Committee Advances Capito Legislation

Approves three bills to improve broadband mapping, 5G deployment, air traffic controller hiring

07-24-2019 Commerce Markup PLAY

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.)—a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee—today voted during a committee markup to advance the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act, legislation she co-sponsored and amended to improve the accuracy of broadband coverage maps. The legislation includes several provisions Senator Capito authored and were part of her Broadband Data Improvement Act (BDIA), which she introduced in May. 

“We’ve had a lot of testimony in this committee as to the inaccuracy of some of the data that’s coming through on the mapping. My state of West Virginia is one of those most challenged states when it comes to connectivity. And how can we fix the problem if we do not accurately know where the problems exist? I’ve been really proud to work with the chairman and his staff to include several provisions from legislation that I introduced—the Broadband Data Improvement Act—that we introduced together and tackle the same issue,” Senator Capito said regarding the Broadband DATA Act

“This will help with our rural access to broadband. I believe it is a very bipartisan and joined by many of us who are continually fighting to get that service to that last house, that last business, that last school, that last entity in our states,” Senator Capito continued

Senator Capito’s language in the Broadband DATA Act would: 

  • Lead to the creation of a singular federal broadband map with new, more granular data collected by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from state and local governments, consumers, and other third parties and updated biannually.  
  • Establish a process requiring the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to consult the map before distributing funds.
  • Develop an online mechanism that allows for challenge submissions and establishes a process for the regular updating of the coverage maps once challenges are resolved. The challenge process can be used for the coverage maps, data submitted by providers, and the location fabric.
  • Require regular auditing of data submitted by providers, allowing for crowdsourcing verification and providing technical assistance for both Tribal and smaller providers that have fewer than 100,000 active connections.

The committee also marked up and advanced two additional pieces of legislation Senator Capito cosponsored. The United States 5G Leadership Act would establish U.S. policy for the commercial deployment and security of Fifth Generation (5G) networks by creating the Supply Chain Security Trust Fund grant program. This program would help U.S. communications providers remove from their networks Chinese equipment determined to threaten national security. 

The third bill, the Air Traffic Controller (ATC) Hiring Reform Act, would help improve the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) hiring process for air traffic controllers by ensuring the agency is able to prioritize the hiring of veterans and graduates of FAA Certified Collegiate Training Initiative (CTI) schools, candidates who have a statistically lower attrition rate during qualification training at the FAA Academy. 

All three pieces of legislation were approved by voice vote and can now be considered and voted on by the full Senate. 

A video of Senator Capito’s statement during the markup is available here.

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