On September 15 the Senate passed the appropriations bill that funds the FCC and included an amendment to extend the Universal Service exemption of the Anti-Deficiency Act (ADA) until December 31, 2006. The House passed the same appropriations bill without the ADA exemption included.
During yesterday’s debate Senator Snowe (R-ME) stated “… Last year we undertook a bipartisan effort among members on the committees of jurisdiction in both Houses of Congress to enact a temporary exemption for the USF from unnecessary, burdensome regulations. In undertaking that effort we worked closely with the Federal Communications Commission, and enjoyed widespread support among the telecom industry, educators, and State and local governments. The temporary extension that we worked so hard to pass has almost expired. We must extend the exemption 1 more year so that the Universal Service Fund can continue to support rural consumers, schools, libraries, hospitals and low-income households….”
The next step is for the House and Senate to negotiate the differences between the two bills and if Congress does not include another one year exemption the Universal Service ADA exemption expires on December 31, 2005.