Government Relations Update September 2023

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By Sam Burns, Internet2 Policy Advisor

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Government Funded Through November 17

On September 30, just hours before a possible government shutdown, a temporary funding extension became law. This continuing resolution (H.R. 5860) will keep the government running through November 17. The shutdown seemed imminent until a last-minute bipartisan effort to advance this temporary funding measure succeeded, with a House vote of 335-91 and a Senate vote of 88-9. The 45-day window created by this continuing resolution will provide an opportunity to find a long-term path forward that keeps the government funded through the rest of the 2024 fiscal year.

It remains unclear what that path might look like. The House majority appeared committed to a course of cutting spending below the levels agreed to in the Fiscal Responsibility Act (Pub. L. 118-5) right up until the September 30 deadline, while both sides of the aisle in the Senate appeared to be interested in holding to the spending caps set out in the Act. We may yet see a shutdown later this year, a longer-term continuing resolution that holds funding at current levels, or a completed appropriations package. Only time will tell which will happen by 11:59 pm on November 16.

FCC Announces New Action on Net Neutrality

On September 26, the Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Jessica Rosenworcel, announced a plan to restore a set of rules governing net neutrality. Chairwoman Rosenworcel’s proposal would move the FCC to adopt rules that principally follow those laid out in the 2015 net neutrality framework used by the Commission under Chairman Tom Wheeler. These rules would deem broadband internet access service (BIAS) an essential service akin to water, power, and phone service and establish national regulation standards.

On September 28, the Chairwoman also released a draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to outline the plan in greater detail. The NPRM does not propose any rate regulation or network unbundling requirements. It proposes the reestablishment of a clear national regulatory regime to protect consumers through the following measures:

  • Prohibit blocking, throttling, or engaging in paid or affiliated prioritization arrangements;
  • Reinstate a general conduct standard that would prohibit unreasonable interference or unreasonable disadvantage to consumers or edge providers; and
  • Retain the disclosure requirements of the current transparency rule and seek comment on how best to implement these and other related requirements.

The Commissioners will meet on October 19 to discuss the NPRM and vote on whether to adopt it. If the NPRM is adopted the FCC will begin a new rulemaking process and seek public comment and reply comments on the proposal. After reviewing those comments, the Commission will determine the best path forward.

State Department Announces International Scientific Partnership

On September 18, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the Partnership for Atlantic Cooperation. The Partnership is a new multilateral forum for collective problem-solving amongst 32 countries from the Atlantic region. This includes nations from the Caribbean, Africa, North and South America, and Europe. The Partnership will have a particular focus on addressing sustainable economic development and science and technology challenges. It will not address defense, security, or governance issues.

While it is not a binding agreement, the Declaration on Atlantic Cooperation represents political commitments from all participants to uphold the guiding principles of the Partnership. The mutual Plan of Action within the Declaration outlines the path forward with a proposal to work on scientific cooperation and shared research, information sharing and maritime awareness, and the development of a cadre of young Atlantic scientists.

In the coming months participating countries will convene working groups to begin planning the execution of these initial objectives, with a meeting of senior officials from across the Partnership set for November 2023. Details of the meeting have not yet been made public.

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