Spectrum provisions, including those pertaining to access to the 700 MHz public safety broadband network by non-public safety entities, have been included as part of larger congressional legislation that would extend the 2% reduction in payroll taxes, extend unemployment benefits and prevent a 27% decrease in medicare reimbursements to doctors (the “doc” fix). The legislation is expected to be passed by Congress today, and would clear the way for public safety to share the 700 MHz public safety broadband network (PSBN) with utilities and other critical infrastructure industries. UTC is continuing to work with Congressional staff to enhance the abilities of utilities to participate in the creation of the PSBN and ensure that the synergies between the communications needs of public safety and utilities are most effectively leveraged in the final legislative compromise. The House and Senate are aiming to have a final conference report ready for an up-or-down vote by the end of this week. Congress is currently scheduled to begin its week-long President’s Day recess beginning this Friday, although congressional leaders have threatened to cancel that recess if a compromise is not reached by week’s end. The deadline for passage of the conference report is February 29th when the current payroll tax reduction expires.
UPDATE: 11:41 AM - The House has approved the payroll tax conference report, 293-132. The conference report now moved to the Senate, where it will also be voted on shortly.
12:45 PM - The Senate approved the conference report 60-36. The bill moves on for President Obama's signature.