Will a Busy Congress Look at Tech Issues in Waning Days of 2009?
Now the handicapping begins: will Congress find time to deal with issues such as patent litigation reform, net neutrality and cybersecurity in the final three months of this year's session? Some analysts say legislators will be too busy with health care issues, defense and the lingering cleanup of the economic mess to spend much time on technology. Others suggest that the many Capitol Hill staffers who are not involved in those priority topics will plow ahead with other concerns, including technology. Prior history suggests that Congress may want to tackle some topics this year, rather than let them come up during the early months of an election/campaign year in 2010. Hence, according to that view, the next 90 days will be very busy, although the pertinent technology and science committees have not yet released agendas for their autumn sessions.
One indicator of the tech attention level was the House subcommittee hearing last week on spectrum allocation. As the full roster of Federal Communications Commissioners testified about airwaves usage, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) acknowledged, "There is a demand crunch coming," referring to spectrum auctions in a specific bandwidth for public safety.
Decisions such as this one on spectrum allocation will open the way for electronics manufacturers to build wireless devices that can be used in the newly available spectrum. Congress may pay attention to such business-stimulating projects.