Sen. John McCain Press Release.
Re: FCC Statement on Schools and Libraries Fund.
Date: June 12, 1998.
Source: Office of Sen. John McCain.

FRIDAY, JUNE 12, 1998
CONTACT: NANCY IVES 202-224-7130
PIA PIALORSI 202-224-2670


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today made the following statement on the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) decision on universal service:

"The FCC's latest attempt to recalibrate its schools and libraries program is an exercise in futility. It will fail to give schools and libraries the level of funding they had been led to expect. It will fail to stop the inexcusable waste of money on the fund's administration. And it will fail to keep consumer's bills from going up yet again. Even worse, it ultimately imperils the funding needed to assure that consumers in rural areas have access to affordable telephone service at reasonable rates.

"The simple truth that underlies this unfortunate situation has nothing whatever to do with whether the Congress supports giving our kids, especially our neediest kids, advanced Internet-based learning technologies in school. The Congress does, and I certainly do. But the simple truth is that the FCC defied the Congress, and violated the 1996 Telecom Act, when for reasons of political expediency it rushed to implement this huge new multibillion-dollar yearly subsidy program without also figuring out how much it would cost to fund all telephone industry subsidy programs.

"The result? exactly what you see now: confusion, disappointment, misunderstanding, and acrimony. Let there be no mistake: the FCC is responsible for what has happened. In acting hastily and with bad judgment, the FCC set this program up to fail.

"Unfortunately, this is but the latest in a virtually unbroken string of failures. The Telecom Act and the FCC have combined to produce nothing but higher rates for virtually every telecommunications service consumers use, from cable TV to payphones.

"It's abysmal. But, more to the point, it's accountability time. Legislation must be enacted immediately to stabilize the schools and libraries program and give the entire telephone industry subsidy system the coherence and permanence the Congress intended. Then, in the upcoming session I will introduce legislation to address the remaining dysfunctions of the 1996 Telecommunications Act and the FCC.

"The FCC has shown yet again that it is incapable of exercising the responsible judgment that Congress has a right to demand from an independent regulatory agency. Consumers deserve better treatment, and Congress must assure that consumers' interests --not political interests or special interests --prevail."