Sen. Cruz Applauds Commerce Committee's Passage of E-FRONTIER Act and Space Frontier Act
Cruz-led bipartisan bills pass Senate Commerce Committee with unanimous support
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation passed the bipartisan E-FRONTIER Act and the bipartisan Space Frontier Act by voice vote. The E-FRONTIER Act, which U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is leading with Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) would put into place protections for commercial 5G broadband networks from nationalization without the explicit authorization from Congress. Reps. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), Susan Brooks (R-Ind.), Filemon Vela (D-Texas) and Jim Banks (R-Ind.), have joined the Senate effort and introduced a House companion bill today.
As chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation and Space, Sen. Cruz recently reintroduced the bipartisan Space Frontier Act along with Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and Gary Peters (D-Mich.). This legislation seeks to secure operations for the International Space Station through 2030, advance opportunities for the commercial space sector, and to support American investments in technology in space fortifying America's leadership in space.
Watch Sen. Cruz's remarks in today's committee markup here. Full transcript is below:
"Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank the Committee for taking up today and passing two different pieces of legislation that I introduced: the first was the Space Frontier Act that, Senator Markey, you just referenced. I want to thank the Chairman and Senator Sinema, Markey, and Peters for your hard work, coming together and reaching bipartisan agreement, and ensuring broad bipartisan support for the commercial space industry and for America's continued leadership in space.
"The Space Frontier Act builds upon the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act that was passed by this Committee in 2015 and signed into law by President Obama, as well as the Space Frontier Act of 2018 that passed the Senate unanimously but that ultimately did not pass the House last year.
"The United States has the potential to grow an even more vibrant and competitive commercial space industry far beyond where we are today. I am grateful that the administration has recognized that potential and taken efforts to foster growth in the industry, but more needs to be done.
"The commercial space industry has been unable to meet its full potential due to outdated regulations and policies that can and do stifle innovation, restrict investment, and drive the American launch sector and non-traditional space activities to foreign countries.
"The Space Frontier Act seeks to solve these issues by streamlining launch and re-entry regulations for reusable and expendable launch systems, establishing an Assistant Secretary for Commercial Space Transportation with the Department of Transportation to elevate the profile of commercial space issues within DOT, elevates the Office of Space Commerce to the Bureau of Space Commerce within the Department of Commerce and establishes an Assistant Secretary for Space Commerce, likewise, to elevate the focus within the department, and it overhauls Earth observation regulations that haven't been updated since they were first created in the early 1990s.
"Additionally, this bill extends the operation and utilization of the International Space Station through the year 2030 to ensure that the United States is getting the maximum return on American taxpayer investment in the ISS, and to avoid creating a leadership vacuum in low Earth orbit.
"I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues here and in the House to ensure that we finally pass this bill and send it to the president's desk before the end of the year.
"The second bill of mine that the committee took up and passed this morning was the ‘E-FRONTIER Act.' On January 28, 2018, Axios released a leaked PowerPoint deck and a memo from the National Security Council detailing a proposal considering the nationalization of next-generation 5G networks. The leaked document would have the unintended effect that few documents can have in our nation's capital: it garnered strong, bipartisan opposition from across the political spectrum.
"All five commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission quickly came out in opposition to the idea of nationalization. Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel tweeted, ‘This correctly diagnoses the real problem. There is a worldwide race to lead in 5G and other nations are poised to win. But the remedy proposed here really misses the mark.' Former Obama administration NTIA Administrator Larry Strickling was slightly less diplomatic in his rebuke of the proposal by saying it ‘sounds like an intern project.' And when asked about the nationalization of 5G during a hearing before this Committee, former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff stated, ‘in general, I think nationalization of a function like that stifles innovation. And, it puts the government in a position which overreaches in terms of what its proper role is.'
"While the administration initially stated that the proposal was preliminary, it has failed to be placed in the graveyard of bad ideas. In fact, in the 14 months since it was initially leaked, it has only continued to gain public support from individuals with close ties to the administration. This form of nationalization would grant a single company exclusive access to valuable government spectrum to stand up a nationwide, wholesale 5G network.
"I strongly oppose this effort. That's why I joined Senator Catherine Cortez Masto last Congress and again in this Congress in introducing the E-FRONTIER Act, which would prohibit the president or a federal agency from constructing, operating or offering wholesale retail services on broadband networks without authorization from Congress. This bill also addresses the very real security concerns as it pertains to 5G networks by requiring the GAO to submit a report to Congress on the threats that our 5G networks face from Iran, Russia, China, and other potential foreign adversaries.
"It is easy to forget, but the United States has not always been the leader in mobile broadband. It wasn't until 2009 that the United States surpassed Japan by securing the highest number of 3G subscribers. We didn't gain our global lead in 3G and maintain our global first place position into 4G by turning to the federal government for a nationalized solution. The U.S. wireless industry remains the best equipped to build, deploy, and secure 5G networks.
"I thank my colleagues for the support of the E-FRONTIER Act that was before the Committee and voted out today. And I would note this legislation is also garnering bipartisan support in the House of Representatives with Representative Tony Cárdenas, Susan Brooks, Filemon Vela, and Jim Banks set to introduce a House companion to this bill.
"The United States is home to the brightest and most highly sought-after innovators and entrepreneurs in the world. There's no reason why the United States can't beat China-and we must beat China in the global race to 5G-without trying to act like China. And the first step to maintaining our global leadership is by enacting the E-FRONTIER Act.
"Mr. Chairman, I also want to thank, in particular, Ranking Member Cantwell for her and her staff working with me and my staff on this bill. I know she has concerns on the security front, and we have been working with the Ranking Member. We will continue working with the Ranking Member to make sure those concerns are addressed and that we can move this legislation to final passage and be passed into law.
"And with that, I thank you, Mr. Chairman."