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A cell tower in Missouri. Photo: Jeff Roberson / AP

Members of congressional leadership are urging the Federal Communications Commission not to let the timeline for handing over airwaves from local broadcasters to wireless providers slip in a letter obtained by Axios. They argue it would hurt rural areas where access to high speed internet is scarce.

The bigger picture: Cellular carriers — especially T-Mobile — want to get their hands on the spectrum they bought in a recent auction from local broadcasters as fast as possible. Broadcasters have pushed in the past to slow down the timeline.

The details:

  • A bipartisan group of lawmakers including Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who chairs the Republican conference in the House, and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise are signed on to the letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. It also includes Democrats like California Rep. Anna Eshoo, formerly the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee's tech subcommittee.
  • They want the process of transitioning airwaves used by broadcasters to wireless carriers who bought them in a recent auction — known as the repack — to stay on schedule. The current deadline in July 3, 2020.
  • "By encouraging a rapid, reasonable, and cost-effective transition of the 600 MHz spectrum, the FCC can help ensure that citizens in rural America enjoy the benefits that reliable, high-speed internet connectivity promise," the lawmakers write in the letter, expected to be sent to Pai on Monday morning.

Go deeper

Collins helps contractor before pro-Susan PAC gets donation

Sen. Susan Collins during her reelection campaign. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A PAC backing Sen. Susan Collins in her high-stakes reelection campaign received $150,000 from an entity linked to the wife of a defense contractor whose firm Collins helped land a federal contract, new public records show.

Why it matters: The executive, Martin Kao of Honolulu, leaned heavily on his political connections to boost his business, federal prosecutors say in an ongoing criminal case against him. The donation linked to Kao was veiled until last week.

How cutting GOP corporate cash could backfire

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies pulling back on political donations, particularly to members of Congress who voted against certifying President Biden's election win, could inadvertently push Republicans to embrace their party's rightward fringe.

Why it matters: Scores of corporate PACs have paused, scaled back or entirely abandoned their political giving programs. While designed to distance those companies from events that coincided with this month's deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol, research suggests the moves could actually empower the far-right.

8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Kaine, Collins pitch Senate colleagues on censuring Trump

Sen. Tim Kaine speaks with Sen. Susan Collins. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine and Susan Collins are privately pitching their colleagues on a bipartisan resolution censuring former President Trump, three sources familiar with the discussions tell Axios.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction in his second impeachment.

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