Alan K. Ota

Senators Push Defense Amendment to Restore ZTE Sanctions
Proposal would effectively block ZTE from American technology — again

A bipartisan contingent of senators wants to use the defense authorization to restore penalties against Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE that were eased Thursday morning.

Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas joined Democratic Sens. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Charles E. Schumer of New York in filing the legislation as an amendment to the defense programs bill. Senators are expected to begin amendment debate on the broader legislation early next week.

Senate GOP May Move Trump FCC Pick With Earlier Nominee
Pair would move in tandem, as is tradition to ensure parity

Geoffrey Starks, President Donald Trump’s pick to be the next Democrat on the Federal Communications Commission, may need a partner on the road to Senate confirmation: FCC member Brendan Carr, whose renomination has been delayed since January.

Trump announced over the weekend that he would nominate Starks, a candidate recommended by Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., to replace Mignon Clyburn. Clyburn, who is the daughter of Rep. James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., said in April that she wants to step aside in the near future after serving more than eight years on the panel.

GOP Senators Dislike Trump’s Threat of Tariffs on Car Imports
“Any time you start raising taxes and tariffs, I’m not very happy about it,” Hatch says

Republican senators expressed unease Thursday about the president’s threat of tariffs on imported automobiles during a Senate lunch with Vice President Mike Pence, amid a widening debate over contentious trade talks with a number of countries, including allies.

Senate Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch said the Commerce Department’s national security review of imported automobiles was “deeply misguided.”

No Clear Path to Legislation for Lawmakers Expressing Outrage Over Facebook Revelations
Congress has historically taken a hands-off approach to tech oversight

Lawmakers, motivated by revelations of Facebook Inc.’s handling of users’ data, may take a look at proposals for new data safeguards — but it’s far from clear that Congress has a clear path from lawmakers’ anger over Facebook to legislative action.

Disclosures about Facebook’s relationship with Cambridge Analytica, and the latter’s behavior in the 2016 elections, may have given legislation greater urgency than was the case after companies such as Equifax Inc. lost the data of about 145 million consumers. But legislation doesn’t seem imminent and, to the extent it’s about data protection, may miss the mark.

Congress Could Split Payments to Broadcasters Over Two Years
Thune, Walden explore compensating spectrum moves over longer period of time

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman John Thune says authorizers and appropriators are exploring whether to compensate broadcasters for giving up spectrum over two years rather than one, a change that could make it a more palatable item in spending bills.

The South Dakota Republican, who is also chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, and House Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., are trying to secure about $1 billion to compensate broadcasters for giving up one part of the spectrum and move to another. But appropriators are balking at the sum.

Bipartisan Deal Opens Path to Reauthorizing FCC, Spectrum Sale
Walden, Pallone, Thune, Nelson all party to deal

Key House and Senate members unveiled a bipartisan agreement Friday on a Federal Communications Commission reauthorization that would provide the agency with more than $330 million annually in fiscal years 2019 and 2020.

The agreement also resolves issues that were slowing spectrum auctions for wireless technology.

Rural Areas Feeling Left Behind in Race to Expand Broadband
Lawmakers looking at several options to close digital divide

Denny Law’s telecommunications company connects phone lines through the plains of western South Dakota and he’s all-in for ending the rural digital divide.

He said President Donald Trump’s promise to level the playing field with a “great, great broadband,” made during a Jan. 8 speech in Nashville, Tennessee, has energized local providers like himself. And, he added, John Thune, the South Dakota Republican who chairs the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, had better take note.

FCC’s Pai, Industry Criticize Prospect of Federal Control of 5G
‘I oppose any proposal for the federal government to build and operate a nationwide 5G network’

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and a trade group for wireless providers said Monday they opposed federal control of the technology that drives the next generation of wireless service, known as 5G. 

“I oppose any proposal for the federal government to build and operate a nationwide 5G network,” Pai said in a statement responding to a report that the National Security Council is considering such an option. The news outlet Axios reported the thinking, citing a PowerPoint document. The report said the administration is considering a single national network. 

Hawaii’s False Missile Alarm Raises Question of Federal Control
‘States are the laboratories for democracy. They should not be laboratories for missile alerts’

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman John Thune voiced support Thursday for draft legislation aimed at preventing erroneous emergency alarms like the one that sent the state of Hawaii into a panic over a nonexistent ballistic missile attack on Jan. 13.

In the first of two hearings on the issue, the committee explored the status of the nation’s wireless emergency alert, or WEA, system established by a 2006 law. The committee will hold a field hearing in Hawaii to examine in detail the false missile attack messages sent out via mobile telephones and television and radio stations after being triggered — and not being corrected for about 40 minutes — by an employee of the state’s emergency management agency.

Senators Threaten Legislation Over Social Media Firms' Content

Big social media companies made a case against new legislative mandates by emphasizing their voluntary efforts to root out terrorism-related material and other objectionable content on their sites during a Senate hearing Wednesday.

But senators from both parties warned representatives of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter of legislative action even as Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman John Thune, R-S.D., said he was focused on oversight rather than legislation, which could further open the companies to lawsuits. The committee approved a bill that would allow online businesses to be sued and prosecuted for sex trafficking content, but Thune indicated he wasn’t ready to do the same over terrorism content.

Why Net Neutrality Isn't Dead Yet
The Week Ahead, Episode 83

Internet service providers say they'd like Congress to pass a law mandating net neutrality now that the Federal Communications Commission has rescinded the rule requiring them to abide by it. But the providers also want Congress to exempt them from broader FCC regulation, says Rick Boucher, a former Democratic representative who now works for the industry. CQ reporter Alan Ota says such a measure faces a tough road on Capitol Hill.

 

Businesses Say Foreign Payment Treatment May Breach Treaties
Provisions in House and Senate tax bills draw pushback

Business advocates are warning that provisions in the House and Senate tax bills aimed at discouraging offshore migration of multinational operations could trigger trade disputes and retaliation by trading partners because they conflict with tax treaties.

The Semiconductor Industry Association, representing big chipmakers such as Intel Corp., Texas Instruments Inc. and Qualcomm Inc., told Republican leaders in a Dec. 5 letter that it has trade-related concerns about two House and Senate proposals that target multinationals’ payments to foreign affiliates, including payments for parts and other goods used in manufacturing, royalties, interest and management fees.

Pai to Renew Push for FCC Reauthorization Before House Panel
Draft bill would authorize $322 million annually through fiscal 2020

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai plans to renew his push for a two-year reauthorization of the agency at a House hearing Wednesday. He says the reauthorization is needed to expedite spectrum auctions and to roll out a new generation of broadband.

Key lawmakers say Pai’s appearance, along with other FCC members, at a House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee hearing will help to set the stage for moving the draft reauthorization legislation that was marked up by the subcommittee on Oct. 11. The subcommittee approved it by voice vote.

Sex Trafficking Bill Would Narrow Protections for Internet Companies
Senators say the bill is aimed at Backpage.com, not Facebook or Google

Senate Rules Chairman Is Cool to Campaign Ad Bill
‘A lot of that is being investigated,’ Sen. Richard C. Shelby says

Senate Rules and Administration Chairman Richard C. Shelby gave a cool reception Thursday to a bipartisan draft bill disclosed the same day that would require large online platforms to collect and disclose data about the buyers of political advertising.

“We will look at everything; right now, a lot of that is being investigated,” the Alabama Republican said about a proposal from Democratic Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and co-sponsored by Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona. Asked whether he would be open to backing the bill in the future or other legislation to deal with the issue, Shelby said, “Not yet.”

Top Republicans Pursue Blue Dogs to Back Tax Bill
Cuellar says details will be key in nailing down his support

President Donald Trump and Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady are trying to woo fiscally conservative Democrats, as Republicans seek consensus for an ambitious overhaul based on the GOP’s tax framework.

Passing a tax bill with just Republican votes in the House is far from a sure thing, as some GOP lawmakers have said they want more details about the size and reach of tax cuts and the impact of contentious offsets such as the elimination of the popular deduction for state and local taxes.

Trump Reaches Out to Centrist Democrats on Taxes
Trump’s team has ‘some optimism’ that Heitkamp will support coming overhaul package

President Donald Trump is sending mixed messages to incumbent Senate Democrats up for re-election in red states as he and GOP leaders try to woo bipartisan support for a major tax overhaul package. 

With his public calls for centrist Democrats to support an emerging GOP tax plan, Trump has underscored his desire to cement a legislative victory before the 2018 midterm elections. But Democrats wonder if he is sincere or if he simply intends to attack them, as he did last week by calling out Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, during a tax speech in her home state. 

Trump, GOP Leaders Near Deal on Tax Principles

By ALAN K. OTA and LINDSEY MCPHERSON

Top Republican leaders said Wednesday they are close to a deal with the Trump administration on a broad set of tax goals that will guide overhaul efforts.

Podcast: How the GOP Is Shopping for Health Bill Votes
The Week Ahead, Episode 62

Republican lawmakers, by keeping two Obamacare taxes on the wealthy, hope to mute Democratic arguments that their health care plan would take away benefits from the poor to help the rich, say CQ Roll Call health reporter Kerry Young and tax reporter Alan K. Ota. But that doesn't mean that the wealthy won't get their tax cuts in legislation yet to come. 

 

Hatch Promises Open Process for Senate Tax Bill
Utah senator says all Finance panel Republicans will be involved