Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Will This Broadband Stimulus Oversight Hearing be Different? 02/27/2013 San Francisco - House Energy & Commerce Committee members are now opening the first oversight hearing of the broadband stimulus program in the new Congress.

The witness list and prepared testimony of the witnesses is available on the Committee's site, and the hearing is now streaming live.

Long term observers of the program are asking one key question: Will today's hearing actually accomplish anything?

Typically, since the first reviews on Capitol Hill of the $7.2 billion effort within the Recovery Act started in 2009, these oversight hearings have been nothing more than partisan banter. GOP members have consistently parroted claims of the nation's largest carriers that the program funds overbuilding of existing networks. Democrats have, not surprisingly, sprung to the defense of Obama Administration appointees at the witness table.

Today however may be different. If both Majority Republicans under Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Democrats lead by Ranking Member Anna Eshoo (D-CA) actually dig into the substance of what today's witnesses have already put on the record in prepared testimony, the Committee may engaged in realm oversight of the effort.

If the facts presented are closely examined rather than used as partisan talking points, and if Committee staff engages in follow-on by tracking the handful of projects that today are truly poorly managed -- and worst -- we will finally see an oversight effort worthy of the United State Congress.
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