U.S. Reps Introduce Legislation to Prevent Sunset of FirstNet Authority
Monday, February 28, 2022 | Comments

Two U.S. representatives introduced legislation to prevent the sunset of the FirstNet responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority).

“As a former 27-year law enforcement officer and chief of police, chair of the subcommittee on emergency preparedness, response and recovery, and as the mother of a firefighter, it is critical that Congress pass this legislation to enhance first responder communications,” said Rep. Val Demings of Florida, one of the bill sponsors. “This has been a goal since September 11, 2001, when I remember serving as commander of the Orlando Police Officers stationed at Orlando International Airport and struggling to receive comprehensive and timely information. As we work to keep Floridians and all Americans safe, we must empower first responders and emergency managers with the tools and technology they need to share information, coordinate responses and protect the people under their care. I’m proud to cosponsor this common-sense legislation to support our first responders and communities.”

Rep. Lizzie Fletcher of Texas was the other sponsor of the bill.

“Our first responders rely on FirstNet to communicate with each other when our community needs them the most,” she said. “I am glad to work with Congresswoman Demings to introduce this legislation to make FirstNet permanent and ensure first responders have the communication tools they need to stay safe and support communities in all the ways they can at all times.”

According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which created the FirstNet Authority, terminates the FirstNet Authority’s authority in 2027 and didn’t identify another federal agency to oversee network operations or updates.

In a report, the GAO said Congress should reauthorize FirstNet before that 2027 end date to ensure network continuity. Find the full GAO report here.

“We thank Congresswomen Demings and Fletcher for introducing this timely legislation, which would help ensure that our first responders can stay connected, effective and safe in the field,” said FirstNet Authority CEO Edward Parkinson. “The FirstNet Authority is the only dedicated nationwide broadband network for our nation’s first responders and serves over 19,000 public-safety agencies and organizations with three million connections in every U.S. state and territory. The legislation would provide certainty for the FirstNet Authority to continue its focus on improving and innovating the network so that responders have the tools they need to help ensure the safety of the American people. We look forward to working with Congress and the administration on the reauthorization of this critical program that benefits public safety across the country.”

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