Grassley Stands Firm on Nominee Hold

April 10 articles in TR Daily and Broadcasting & Cable cover Sen. Charles Grassley’s (R–Iowa) position on documents concerning LightSquared and its stalled attempt to launch a nationwide 4G long term evolution (LTE) network. According to Sen. Grassley, the documents shared with him on April 6 by the House Energy and Commerce Committee appear to be incomplete.

The Iowa senator has requested that additional information from the FCC be made available to the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The senator is maintaining his hold on two nominees for commissioner’s seats at the FCC. A spokesperson for Grassley said in a statement, “According to the FCC, the documents all have been previously released through the Freedom of Information Act.”  This point was made in the cover letter accompanying the documents.

Sen. Grassley released a statement that said, in part, “Senator Grassley’s hold on the FCC nominees will continue until the FCC demonstrates its commitment to comply with the House committee’s request and produce new, internal documents.”  In addition, the senator is quoted as saying that compliance on the part of the commission “will lead to transparency from the FCC that will help to hold the commission accountable and allow the FCC commissioner nominees to move forward.” Grassley has stated that he continues to work with House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) who has indicated that he will share additional documents with the senator.

Of note, freshman Sen. Mike Lee (R-Ohio) separately has vowed his intent to block all future congressional appointees for this year. Sen. Lee is upset that during the 2011-2012 winter congressional break, President Obama appointed Richard Cordray as head of a new consumer watchdog agency and three members of the National Labor Relations Board. As a result, even if Sen. Grassley removes his hold, Congress may not proceed with the new FCC commissioner nominations.

Also of note, in a separate request, Sen. Grassley and Rep. Michael Turner (R–Ohio) sent a letter to the National Telecommunications Information Administration requesting information on how much taxpayer money was spent in testing the LightSquared frequencies for Global Positioning Systems (GPS) interference. The letter cited news accounts of LightSquared board member Philip Falcone responding affirmatively to questions regarding the possibility of taking LightSquared into bankruptcy.

The letter indicates that both the senator and the congressman are concerned that should LightSquared enter bankruptcy, the federal government will be unable to recoup tax dollars spent on the testing.

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