Diane Watson on Technology
Democratic Representative (CA-33)
Voted YES on delaying digital TV conversion by four months.
Congressional Summary:Amends the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act to delay the transition of television broadcasting from analog to digital to June 13, 2009. Requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to extend for a 116-day period the licenses for recovered spectrum, including the construction requirements associated with those licenses.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. RICK BOUCHER (D, VA-9): Fully 6.5 million households are totally unprepared for the transition on February 17; these 6.5 million households will lose all of their television service, and that number represents about 5.7% of the total American television viewing public. If almost 6%of the nation's households lose all of their television service, I think that most people would declare that the digital television transition has been a failure. In recognition of that reality, this legislation would delay the transition until June 12.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. JOE LINUS BARTON (R, TX-6): The majority is trying to fix a problem that I do not think really exists. We have sent out 33 million coupons: 22 million of those coupons have been redeemed, and 11 million coupons are outstanding. The outstanding coupons are being redeemed, I think, by about 500,000 a week, something like that. In my opinion, you could keep the hard date and not have a problem, but if you think there is a problem, it is not from lack of money. We have appropriated $1.3 billion. About half of that is still in the Treasury, so the redemption rate is only about 52%. Even though we are delaying this until June 12 if this bill becomes law, according to the acting chairman of the FCC, 61% of the television stations in America are going to go ahead and convert to digital. 143 television stations already have converted, and in those areas where they have converted, I am not aware that there has been a huge problem.
Reference: DTV Delay Act;
; vote number 2009-H052
on Mar 4, 2009
Voted NO on retroactive immunity for telecoms' warrantless surveillance.
Proponents argument for voting YEA:Rep. ETHERIDGE. This bipartisan bill provides the critical tools that our intelligence community needs to ensure the safety of our Nation--to authorize surveillance in the case of an emergency situation, p
companies that participated in the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program. It sets a dangerous precedent for Congress to approve a law that dismisses ongoing court cases simply on the basis that the companies can show that the administrat
Reference: FISA Amendments Act;
; vote number 2008-437
on Jun 20, 2008
Voted YES on $23B instead of $4.9B for waterway infrastructure.
Vote on overriding Pres. Bush's veto. The bill reauthorizes the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA): to provide for the conservation and development of water and related resources, to authorize the Secretary of the Army to construct various projects for improvements to rivers and harbors of the United States. The bill authorizes flood control, navigation, and environmental projects and studies by the Army Corps of Engineers. Also authorizes projects for navigation, ecosystem or environmental restoration, and hurricane, flood, or storm damage reduction in 23 states including Louisiana.
Veto message from President Bush:
This bill lacks fiscal discipline. I fully support funding for water resources projects that will yield high economic and environmental returns. Each year my budget has proposed reasonable and responsible funding, including $4.9 billion for 2008, to support the Army Corps of Engineers' main missions. However, this authorization bill costs over $23 billion. This is not fiscally responsible, particularly when local communities have been waiting for funding for projects already in the pipeline. The bill's excessive authorization for over 900 projects and programs exacerbates the massive backlog of ongoing Corps construction projects, which will require an additional $38 billion in future appropriations to complete. This bill does not set priorities. I urge the Congress to send me a fiscally responsible bill that sets priorities.
Reference: Veto override on Water Resources Development Act;
Bill Veto override on H.R. 1495
; vote number 2007-1040
on Nov 6, 2007
Voted YES on establishing "network neutrality" (non-tiered Internet).
An amendment, sponsored by Rep Markey (D, MA) which establishes "network neutrality" by requiring that broadband network service providers have the following duties:
Proponents say that network neutrality ensures that everybody is treated alike with regard to use of the Internet,
which has been a principle applied to Internet use since it was first originated. Proponents say that without network neutrality, large corporations will pay for exclusive preferential service and hence small websites will be relegated to a second tier of inferior service. Opponents say that the Markey amendment forsakes the free market in favor of government price controls, and would chill investment in broadband network and deployment of new broadband services, and would reduce choice for internet users. Voting YES favors the network neutrality viewpoint over the price control viewpoint.
Reference: Communications, Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement Act;
Bill HR 5252 Amendment 987
; vote number 2006-239
on Jun 8, 2006
- not to block or interfere with the ability of any person to use a broadband connection to access the Internet;
- to operate its broadband network in a nondiscriminatory manner so that any person can offer or provide content and services over the broadband network with equivalent or better capability than the provider extends to itself or affiliated parties, and without the imposition of a charge for such nondiscriminatory network operation;
- if the provider prioritizes or offers enhanced quality of service to data of a particular type, to prioritize or offer enhanced quality of service to all data of that type without imposing a surcharge or other consideration for such prioritization or enhanced quality of service.
Voted NO on increasing fines for indecent broadcasting.
Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2005: Expresses the sense of Congress that broadcast television station licensees should reinstitute a family viewing policy for broadcasters. Amends the Communications Act of 1934 to provide that for violators of any Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license, if a violator is determined by the FCC to have broadcast obscene, indecent, or profane material, the amount of forfeiture penalty shall not exceed $500,000 for each violation. Sets forth:
Reference: Bill sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton [R, MI-6];
; vote number 2005-035
on Feb 16, 2005
- additional factors for determining indecency penalties;
- indecency penalties for non-licensees;
- deadlines for actions on complaints;
- additional remedies for indecent broadcasts; and
- provisions for license disqualification, revocation, or renewal consideration for violations of indecency prohibitions.
Voted NO on promoting commercial human space flight industry.
Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004: States that Congress finds that:
Reference: Bill sponsored by Rep Dana Rohrabacher [R, CA-46];
; vote number 2004-541
on Nov 20, 2004
- the goal of safely opening space to the American people and to their private commercial enterprises should guide Federal space investments, policies, and regulations;
- private industry has begun to develop commercial launch vehicles capable of carrying human beings into space;
- greater private investment in these efforts will stimulate the commercial space transportation industry;
- space transportation is inherently risky, and the future of the commercial human space flight industry will depend on its ability to continually improve its safety performance; and
- the regulatory standards governing human space flight must evolve as the industry matures so that regulations neither stifle technology development nor expose crew or space flight participants to avoidable risks as the public comes to expect greater safety for crew and space flight participants from the industry.
Voted NO on banning Internet gambling by credit card.
Internet Gambling Bill: Vote to pass a bill that would prohibit credit card companies and other financial institutions from processing Internet gambling transactions. Exempt from the ban would be state regulated or licensed transactions.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Spencer, R-AL;
Bill HR 2143
; vote number 2003-255
on Jun 10, 2003
Voted YES on allowing telephone monopolies to offer Internet access.
Internet Freedom and Broadband Deployment Act of 2001: Vote to pass a bill that would allow the four regional Bell telephone companies to enter the high-speed Internet access market via their long-distance connections whether or not they have allowed competitors into their local markets as required under the 1996 Telecommunications Act. The bill would allow the Bells to increase the fees they charge competitors for lines upgraded for broadband services from "wholesale rates" to "just and reasonable rates." It also would also allow the Bells to charge for giving competitors access to certain rights-of-way for broadband access. Certain FCC regulatory oversight would be maintained although the phone companies' high speed services would be exempted from regulation by the states.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Tauzin, R-LA;
Bill HR 1542
; vote number 2002-45
on Feb 27, 2002
Close digital divide with high-tech training.
Watson adopted the CBC principles:
The CBC recognizes technology as one of the most important issues minorities must address over the next decade. They are focused on closing the digital divide and moving towards digital empowerment for all Americans.
Source: Congressional Black Caucus press release 01-CBC9 on Jan 6, 2001
- Training Workers for the New Economy. The CBC believes that we need to train American workers for high-tech jobs. The majority of the high-wage jobs in the new economy are in the high-tech industry; and the U.S. high-tech industry pays higher wages than any other private sector industry. The H-1B training grants and other high-tech training grants should be targeted to train women, youth, minorities, military veterans and people with disabilities who are now under-represented in the high-tech industry. We will also seek to partner with the high-tech industry on both the hiring and retention of those persons in the previously mentioned groups who already have high-tech skills. We believe in lifelong learning and will work to support programs that help adults continue enhancing both their education and job skills. Technology skills will be critical to helping adults improve their professional standing.
Popularize Electronic Signatures with ESIGN Day.
Watson signed H.CON.RES.290 & S.RES.576
CONCURRENT RESOLUTION to support the designation of a National ESIGN Day:
- Whereas the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN) was enacted on June 30, 2000, to ensure that a signature, contract, or other record relating to a transaction may not be denied legal effect, validity, or enforceability solely because it is in electronic form;
- Whereas June 30, 2010, marks the 10th anniversary of the enactment of ESIGN and would be an appropriate date to designate as 'National ESIGN Day':
Now, therefore, be it Resolved that Congress supports the designation of a 'National ESIGN Day';
Source: National ESIGN Day 10-HR290 on Jun 24, 2010
- recognizes the previous contribution made by Congress to the adoption of modern solutions that keep the United States on the leading technological edge; and
- reaffirms its commitment to facilitating interstate and foreign commerce in an increasingly digital world.
Overturn FCC approval of media consolidation.
Watson co-sponsored overturning FCC approval of media consolidation
Congressional Summary:Disapproves the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on February 22, 2008, relating to broadcast media ownership. Declares that the rule shall have no force or effect.
Proponents' Argument in Favor:Sen. DORGAN: The FCC loosened the ban on cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcast stations. We seek with this resolution of disapproval to reverse the FCC's fast march to ease media ownership rules. The FCC has taken a series of destructive actions in the past two decades that I believe have undermined the public interest. [Now they have given] a further green light to media concentration.
The FCC voted to allow cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcast stations in the top 20 markets, with loopholes for mergers outside of the top 20 markets.
The newspapers would be allowed to buy stations ranked above fifth and above.
The rule change was framed as a modest compromise. But make no mistake, this is a big deal. As much as 44% of the population lives in the top 20 markets. The last time the FCC tried to do this, in 2003, the Senate voted to block it.
This rule will undercut localism and diversity of ownership around the country. Studies show that removing the ban on newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership results in a net loss in the amount of local news produced in the market as a whole. In addition, while the FCC suggests that cross-ownership is necessary to save failing newspapers, the publicly traded newspapers earn annual rates of return between 16% and 18%.
This Resolution of Disapproval will ensure this rule change has no effect. This is again a bipartisan effort to stop the FCC from destroying the local interests that we have always felt must be a part of broadcasting.
Source: S.J.RES.28&H.J.RES.79 2008-SJR28 on Mar 5, 2008
Page last updated: Sep 14, 2010