Trump Asks Congress to Amend Coronavirus Relief Bill That Includes T-Band Repeal
Wednesday, December 23, 2020 | Comments

President Donald Trump called on Congress to amend a coronavirus relief package that includes the repeal of the mandate that the FCC auction the T-band spectrum by 2021 in a short video posted to his twitter account.

In the video, Trump specifically took issue with some non-COVID related provisions and spending included in the bill.

“It’s called the COVID relief bill, but it has almost nothing to do with COVID,” he said.

Trump specifically attacked funding to specific countries, funding to institutions such as the Smithsonian and other museums, and funding to conservation-related projects such as counting specific fish species. Trump also attacked the amount of money Congress approved for direct relief payments to American taxpayers.

“Despite all this wasteful spending and much more, the $900 billion dollar package provides hard-working taxpayers with only $600 each in relief payments and not enough money is given to small businesses and in particular restaurants whose owners have suffered so grievously,” Trump said.

Trump did not specifically threaten a veto of the bill but indicated that he wanted to see major changes to the bill.

“I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000 or $4,000 for a couple,” he said. “I am also asking Congress to immediately get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation and send me a suitable bill or else the next administration will have to deliver a COVID relief package and maybe that next administration will be me and we’ll get it done.”

Trump did not specifically call out any of the communications-related provisions of the bill, such as the T-band repeal, in his comments and it’s unclear what would happen to those elements if the bill is amended.

In a tweet of her own, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi urged the president to pressure Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to increase the direct payments to American citizens.

“Mr. President, sign the bill to keep government open!,” Pelosi tweeted. “Urge McConnell and McCarthy to agree with the Democratic unanimous consent request for $2,000 direct payments! This can be done by noon on Christmas Eve!”

McConnell and McCarthy had not yet released statements on the president’s request to amend the bill at press time.

In 2012, Congress passed the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, which created the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) and provided dedicated spectrum for a nationwide public-safety broadband network. However, that bill also included a mandate the FCC auction off the T-band spectrum, 470 – 512 MHz, by 2021. The T-band is used by public-safety organizations in major metro areas around the country as well as by critical infrastructure and business organizations.

Since the passage of the mandate, public safety and other industry organizations have been fighting to have the auction mandate repealed before the FCC had to follow through. Organizations including the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International and the Enterprise Wireless Alliance (EWA) applauded Congress’ approval of the bill Dec. 21.

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