Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River) led the passage of H.R. 4986, the Repack Airwaves Yielding Better Access for Users of Modern Services, or RAY BAUM’S Act, through the House of Representatives. Named after La Grande native, Ray Baum, this legislation reauthorizes the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for the first time in 28 years.

“The RAY BAUM’S Act reauthorizes the Federal Communications Commission, includes efficiency and transparency reforms for the FCC, and spurs the development of next-generation 5G technologies,” said Walden in a speech on the House floor today. “It’s good for consumers, and it’s good for our nation’s critical telecommunications services.”

RAY BAUM’S Act is a bipartisan, bicameral agreement among House and Senate leaders to reauthorize the FCC and support the deployment of next-generation wireless broadband services. The Energy and Commerce Committee approved an earlier version of H.R. 4986 by voice vote last month. The legislation that passed today will:

  • Reauthorize the FCC and include reforms to ensure the commission continues to improve its efficiency and transparency.
  • Boosts development of next-generation wireless broadband known as 5G by identifying spectrum for private sector use and cutting red tape associated with building wireless networks.
  • Help TV broadcasters and rural translator districts relocate channels following the successful mobile broadband spectrum auction.
  • Help the FCC and law enforcement protect consumers from fraudulent telephone calls, and to educate Americans about their options to stop these illegal calls.

Ray Baum, the former Staff Director of the Energy and Commerce Committee, was a champion of telecommunications policy and long-time personal friend of Walden and lost his battle with cancer in February 2018.

“My dear friend of nearly 30 years, Ray dedicated much of his public service to telecom policy, including working on this very legislation. These issues were a priority and a passion for him. He left us a legacy of optimism, perseverance, and working across the aisle to get things done — I hope our bipartisan efforts today reflect his commitment to good public policy. It’s fitting that this important bill is named in his honor,” Walden added.