Public Safety Alliance D Block Activity Update

Stay engaged, and stay with us

The Public Safety Alliance is continuing to make great strides in advancing national policy to allocate an additional 10 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band (D Block) as well as funding to public safety to establish a nationwide broadband network. Most recently, Vice President Joe Biden, in his address to the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) noted that spectrum for public safety is a concern for the Obama administration. Attorney General Eric Holder stated, “This [D Block] is a Cabinet-level priority. It is a Justice Department priority. And I will continue to advocate for meaningful, affordable access to radio spectrum when and where you need it. This continues to be a personal priority for me.”

Essential Action Items

We need additional Senate cosponsors to join in during November!

We need our supporters to call members of Congress to encourage them to take action when Congress reconvenes between the election and end of the session.

We are developing an action plan for the 112th Congress. Further developments to follow.

Stay engaged, and stay with us. There is more work yet to be done!

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The Details and Accomplishments

In September, the PSA worked with Senator John (Jay) Rockefeller, IV (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, to introduce S. 3756, The Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act. The bill directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to allocate the D Block to public safety and also identifies funding to build and maintain a nationwide interoperable public safety broadband network. Chairman Rockefeller also convened a hearing on September 23 titled “The Need for a Nationwide Public Safety Network” in which he remarked that allocating the spectrum to public safety “is the right course—and the right thing to do.” Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, the Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Committee said, “There is no question that public safety should have all of the resources it needs, including use of vital spectrum. And, I am prepared to support a direct allocation of this particular spectrum to public safety rather than auctioning it for commercial use.” Just before the Senate recessed for the elections, Senators Roland Burris (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Harry Reid (D-NV) also become cosponsors of S. 3756.

The support for D Block allocation in the Senate builds upon support the PSA has received from Senators Joe Lieberman and John McCain (R-AZ), who introduced S. 3625, The First Responders Protection Act of 2010. “It’s time to put first responders first,” said Senator Lieberman at PSA’s July 21 press conference on Capitol Hill. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build a coast-to-coast communications network for our nation’s first responders that is secure, robust and resilient. Securing the D-Block for public safety will allow us to build an interoperable network for emergency communications that could prevent the kinds of communication meltdowns we had during 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina.” Senator McCain (R-AZ) stated, “As we approach the nine year commemoration of the horrific events on September 11th and the five year remembrance of the devastating tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, it is disgraceful that police officers, sheriffs and fire fighters still don’t have a nationwide interoperable communications system.”

In addition, the number of cosponsors for H.R. 5081, The Public Safety Broadband Act, the first of these proposed pieces of legislation, which was introduced by Representatives Peter King (R-NY) and Yvette Clarke (D-NY) is nearing 80.

The PSA has asked its nine partner associations and the more than 40 supporting associations to issue calls to action, urging their members to contact their Congresspersons to request that they co-sponsor H.R. 5081 and S. 3756.

With fewer than 319 days left before the 10th anniversary of September 11, when 343 New York City Fire Department firefighters, 23 New York City Police Department officers, 37 Port Authority Police Department officers and 15 Emergency Medical Technicians lost their lives because they could not communicate, the PSA is committed to enacting legislation that will allocate the D Block and funding to public safety.

Stay engaged, and stay with us. There is more work yet to be done!

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