McMorris Rodgers, Latta advocate for full funding of FCC’s rip and replace program

U.S. Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Bob Latta (R-OH) are “extremely disappointed” that the federal government hasn’t yet fully funded the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) rip and replace program, which provides funds to American communications providers to remove equipment that poses a national security threat.

Rep. McMorris Rodgers, chair of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee, and Rep. Latta, chair of the E&C Communications and Technology Subcommittee, were joined by their ranking members, U.S. Reps. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Doris Matsui (D-CA), in releasing a joint statement on July 17 that follows the deadline for carriers to choose to participate in the program.

“This program provides funding to American communications providers to remove suspect equipment like Huawei and ZTE from our communications infrastructure,” said the lawmakers. “The longer Congress waits to address the funding shortfall in this program, the more we jeopardize America’s national security by leaving our networks vulnerable to espionage by adversaries like China.”

The members also said they continue to work with their E&C Committee colleagues and leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives to bring the Spectrum Auction Reauthorization Act, H.R. 3565, to the floor to fully fund the program.

“It’s critical that we find a path forward as soon as possible to finish securing our networks and strengthening our national defense,” they said.

Rep. McMorris Rodgers on May 22 sponsored H.R. 3565 alongside lead original cosponsor Rep. Pallone to authorize the FCC to use a system of competitive bidding to grant a license or a permit for use of electromagnetic spectrum and to direct proceeds from this system of competitive bidding for communications and technology initiatives, according to the text of the bill.

Additionally, H.R. 3565 would promote national security and public safety by providing $3.08 billion for small communications providers to remove Huawei and ZTE from their networks, as well as authorize and fund Next Generation 9-1-1 technology, says a bill summary provided by the lawmakers. 

The E&C Committee on May 24 approved H.R. 3565 by a bipartisan vote of 50-0, advancing it to the full chamber for consideration.