House Delays Vote on NTIA Reauthorization Act


The House postponed voting on the NTIA Reauthorization Act on Tuesday.

Jericho Casper House Delays Vote on NTIA Reauthorization Act Screenshot of Representative Tim Walberg, R-Michigan, from U.S. House Of Representatives live stream.

WASHINGTON, May 14, 2024 – The House of Representatives delayed a vote on the NTIA Reauthorization Act, a bill designed to modernize the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and bolster its pivotal role in the federal Internet for All initiative.

Despite urgency expressed by three proponents of the bill and a push to expedite the process using the “suspension of the rules” procedure — which allows for swift passage with limited debate and requires a two-thirds majority — the House did not proceed with a vote.

The proposed NTIA Reauthorization Act would promote the current head of the NTIA to Under Secretary of the Department of Commerce, signifying the elevated importance of the agency’s functions in government operations.

The bill’s supporters say it is necessitated by the dramatic evolution of the NTIA since its last authorization in 1992. The NTIA is currently managing $42.5 billion in federal grants dedicated to expanding broadband infrastructure across the country.

“It’s crucial that the NTIA’s leadership structure reflects its significant domestic and international roles,” explained Representative Bob Latta, R-Ohio, who proposed initiating the floor vote Tuesday.

The legislative package includes provisions from several bipartisan bills worked on by the Energy and Commerce Committee this session, such as the Plan for Broadband Act spearheaded by Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Michigan.

This act mandates the NTIA, in collaboration with other federal agencies, to develop and implement a national strategy to close the digital divide, which includes monitoring the consistency, affordability, and quality of federally supported broadband services.

The package also includes the Open RAN Outreach Act led by Rep. Colin Allred, D-Texas, to address cybersecurity issues, said Rep. Lori Trahan, D-Massachusetts, who stood in support of the bill.

“This bill also includes important provisions to codify NTIA’s current work and responsibility,” such as, providing statutory authority for two NTIA offices focused on public safety communications and international telecommunications policy, Trahan said. 

“Among other things, we have improved NTIA’s ability to file classified information with the FCC.

“We have also agreed to work further with our colleagues to better develop methods for advancing NTIA spectrum management capabilities.” The broader package includes language to reauthorize the NTIA spectrum management processes.

It would impose new requirements on NTIA to synchronize interagency operations across the 15 federal agencies managing federal broadband programs

“This reauthorization is one way to ensure NTIA has the tools it needs to effectively manage these programs and is held accountable for the decisions it makes,” Latta said.

“We must ensure federal dollars are spent effectively and efficiently,” Walberg added.

The House ultimately did not vote on the NTIA Reauthorization Act on Tuesday. The Speaker ultimately delayed the vote and further discussion on the bill until a later time.

The House passed only two out of fifteen bills considered under suspension of the rules on Tuesday. Neither of the laws passed pertain to broadband or communications technology.