Congress Must Reauthorize Spectrum Auctions

Statement of Brandon Arnold

Executive Vice President

National Taxpayers Union

United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation

“Spectrum and National Security”

March 21, 2024

On behalf of National Taxpayers Union (NTU), we thank the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation for holding today’s hearing on the critically important topic of “Spectrum and National Security.”

NTU has long advocated for transitioning as much spectrum from the public sector to the private sector as reasonably possible. We have supported numerous efforts to restore the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) authority to license spectrum. As we noted in a recent blog post on this topic:

“[T]here is unused spectrum that could be used to benefit Americans by expanding rural broadband and deploying 5G nationwide, among other optimizations. Taxpayers benefit from the deployment of 5G nationwide through efficient services, additional jobs created, and boosts to the nation’s GDP.”

Indeed, doing so would provide a much-needed economic boost to our country by spurring more innovation and economic activity. It would also help the United States maintain a global competitive edge in the telecommunications sector, which has tremendous implications for both prosperity and national security. Furthermore, taxpayers stand to benefit immensely from the billions of dollars generated through auction sales, which could be used to reduce our out-of-control deficit. 

Several bills have been proposed in the current and recent Congresses to advance this critical goal. Most recently, Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-TX), as well as Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) – all esteemed members of this Committee – introduced the The Spectrum Pipeline Act. This legislation advances several important goals; most notably identifying additional spectrum that can be transitioned to private sector use and renewing FCC auction authority. 

The legislation also speaks to important issues that are beyond the scope of NTU, such as the  amount of spectrum that would be apportioned to licensed, unlicensed, and other uses. We urge the Committee to ensure that these decisions on this matter are made in a manner that maximizes innovation and yields the best outcomes for taxpayers.

Again, NTU thanks the Committee for its work on this issue that holds tremendous importance to taxpayers. We hope you can advance legislation to restore FCC spectrum authority to the  benefit of our nation at this critical time.