Bill With D-Block Passes House, Angers Officials

Tucked in a bill passed by the House on Tuesday about job creation and tax relief for middle class Americans was a measure ­­to support the D-Block spectrum for public safety and funding to build the network.

While parts of the bill are receiving praise, other measures are being called "disastrous for public safety’s goal for nationwide interoperable emergency communications."

Public Safety Alliance officials are urging the Senate to replace the bill with its own version, intstatement as they attempt to garner support to get the Senate to replace it with Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act of 2011.

"Today is filled with strong and mixed emotions for our nation's first responders and public safety officials. While we welcome the widespread bipartisan and bicameral support increasingly shown for allocation of D Block spectrum to public safety, and $5 to $6.5 billion or more in funding to finally realize the nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network, we are bitterly disappointed that our nation’s first responders concerns over the public safety spectrum giveback provision in H.R. 3630 remain unaddressed," Charles Dowd, PSA spokesperson and Deputy Chief of the New York City Police Department said in a prepared statement.

"We have waited long enough and any further delay is not acceptable. Congress must work together to pass a bill that works for our first responders and works for America."

Louisville Fire Chief Gregory Frederick added:

"While this House bill takes two steps forward by allocating D Block spectrum and providing some of the funding needed to build out the public safety network, it takes three steps back by yanking 14 MHz of narrowband spectrum that public safety is currently using for interoperable mission-critical voice communications."

PSA officials added that they feel the House bill also "straps public safety and state and local governments with an unproven, unaccountable and unworkable 'administrator' governance model, and to top it off it does not provide sufficient funding to assure expedited build out of the public safety broadband network in rural America."

As currently written, this bill cannot stand, they said.

"Additionally, the PSA urges Congress to allow states and localities maximum flexibility in utilizing enhanced 'secondary use' beyond current law, and in developing and entering into private and public partnerships that best meet their specific needs to assure sustainment of their mission-critical public safety broadband systems for the future security of all Americans."