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Firefighters watch as the Kincade Fire burns in Healdsburg, California, in October 2019. Photo: Philip Pacheco/AFP

The Federal Communications Commission is planning a field hearing in California following bipartisan pressure to get out of Washington and hear firsthand how last fall's wildfires affected communications networks in the state.

Why it matters: Power outages prompted by the fires brought cell sites down, interrupting wireless service for California residents. Policymakers hope informed guidance out of Washington could help minimize widespread outages next fire season.

Driving the news: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) pressed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in a letter this week to hold a field hearing in his district on the wildfires.

  • FCC spokesperson Tina Pelkey told Axios that plans are indeed in the works to hold a hearing in California.

Details: McCarthy said in his letter that a hearing could help inform wildfire-related recommendations the FCC may make upon completing an ongoing review of the voluntary framework that wireless companies formed for bolstering networks' ability to withstand disasters.

  • The House Energy & Commerce communications subcommittee held a hearing Thursday focused on network resiliency bills, including legislation from California Democrats that would require the FCC to hold public field hearings in areas affected by disasters.
  • The lawmakers who introduce the legislation — Reps. Doris Matsui, Anna Eshoo Mike Thompson and Jared Huffman — also urged Pai in a December letter to include targeted recommendations on wildfire responses in his review of the voluntary framework.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that the FCC simply plans to hold its hearing in California, and not specifically in McCarthy’s district, as we originally wrote.

Go deeper

Trump bump: NYT and WaPo digital subscriptions tripled since 2016

Data: Axios reporting and public filings; Chart: Axios Visuals

The New York Times and The Washington Post have very different strategies for building the subscription news company of the future.

The big picture: Sources tell Axios that the Post is nearing 3 million digital subscribers, a 50% year-over-year growth in subscriptions and more than 3x the number of digital-only subscribers it had in 2016. The New York Times now has more than 6 million digital-only subscribers, nearly 3x its number from 2016.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
29 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Biden's emerging climate orbit

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

As of Tuesday morning, we know a lot more about President-elect Joe Biden climate personnel orbit, even as picks for agencies like EPA and DOE are outstanding, so here are a few early conclusions.

Why it matters: They're the highest-level names yet announced who will have a role in what Biden is promising will be a far-reaching climate and energy agenda.

Janet Yellen is back

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Hannelore Foerster/Getty Images

A face familiar to Wall Street is back as a central player that this time will need to steer the country out of a deep economic crisis.

Driving the news: President-elect Joe Biden is preparing to nominate former Fed chair Janet Yellen to be Treasury secretary.