THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
ADMINISTRATION STATEMENT ON SENATE PASSAGE OF S. 652
Although the Administration still has serious concerns that need to be addressed, important improvements were made in S.652 on the Senate floor. The Administration commends the hard work of the Senate and its leadership and looks forward to working with both houses of Congress to produce pro-competitive and pro-consumer final legislation that will bring greater choice and lower prices in communications for all Americans.
Important improvements made to the committee-reported version include:
Despite this progress, it is very important that the legislation be improved further. For instance, the provisions allowing waiver of the cable-telco buyout provision are overly broad and the rural exemption is too high, thereby precluding competition in some rural areas where competition could be expected to develop. In addition, the Administration opposes deregulating cable rates on the date of enactment in those markets where competition has not yet arrived and supports meaningful protections for consumers served by monopoly systems. The foreign ownership provision does not provide authority to grant most-favored nation status for telecommunications, which is crucial to our success in multilateral negotiations.
There are other important areas where no improvements at all were made by the Senate. The Administration continues to have the following serious concerns that need to be addressed:
Many steps remain in the process before the telecommunications legislation can become law. Although we are encouraged that some progress has been made, more needs to be done to improve the legislation so that it will truly promote competition, benefit consumers and protect universal service. The Administration will continue to take every opportunity to work with Congress to make such improvements. The Administration's position on the final legislation will depend on the extent to which the Administration's concerns have been addressed satisfactorily during the course of the entire legislative process.