President Trump Signs Coronavirus Relief Bill That Includes T-Band Repeal
Monday, December 28, 2020 | Comments

After concerns of a potential veto, President Donald Trump signed a coronavirus relief and government funding bill that includes a repeal of the T-band auction mandate.

After Congress passed the initial bill, Trump called on Congress to amend the bill to increase direct relief payments to American citizens from $600 to $2,000 and to remove what he called “wasteful spending” in the bill.

The bill was passed on Dec. 21, and Trump held off signing it for nearly a week while attacking it as a “disaster.” There were concerns that Trump would try to veto the bill even though it passed in both the House and Senate with a majority large enough to override a veto.

“I am signing this bill to restore unemployment benefits, stop evictions, provide rental assistance, add money for PPP (Paycheck Protection Program), return our airline workers back to work, add substantially more money for vaccine distribution and much more,” Trump said in a statement after he signed the bill.

Trump said he while he was signing the bill, he still wanted Congress to increase the direct payments and cut funding to portions of the bill he deemed as wasteful funding. Trump said he was sending a redlined version of the bill, item by item, as well as formal recission requests for removing some of that spending from the bill.

Under the Constitution, Congress controls the purse strings and is responsible for determining where funding goes, while the executive branch is responsible for spending that money. The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 outlines the process that a president can use to change the amount of funding Congress allocates to different areas.

Under the act, the president can formally file a recission request if he wants to spend less money than Congress allocated for that process. While that request is being considered by Congress, the president may withhold funding that is targeted by those requests. Congress than has 45 legislative session days to pass legislation changing the amount of funding. If Congress does not pass legislation changing the funding is not enacted in 45 days, the withheld funds must then be made available.

It was unclear at press time, specifically what portions of the bill Trump was targeting, but the T-band repeal provision does not have any sort of funding tied to it. The House of Representatives was set to vote on an increase to the direct relief payments on Dec. 21.

The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which created the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), mandated that the FCC auction the T-band spectrum by 2021. Since the passage of that bill, public-safety and other industry organizations have fought for a repeal of the mandate arguing that the spectrum is unlikely to raise enough money to even cover the cost of relocating incumbents. Additionally, the public-safety organizations argued that the spectrum was critical to incumbents in large metropolitan areas around the country. Those efforts paid off nine years later when Congress included the repeal of the T-band in the relief package.

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