Washington, D.C., partner Laura Phillips was quoted in two Law360 articles about the impact of the government shutdown on the FCC’s operations. The first article, “In Shutdown, FCC Field Work Limited to Interference Issues,” discusses the limited work being performed by local FCC agency offices. Laura explained that the FCC field offices are “there for true emergencies, like a broadcast tower falling over or ridiculous interference,” and that parties are “kind of on notice that they have to be proactive when they’ve been notified that there’s an issue,” since there will be a lack of follow-up from the FCC’s local divisions as they are forced to limit the scope of their work.
In the second article, “Does the FCC Have to Hold its Meeting in Shutdown Mode?” Laura explains the uncertain fate of the FCC’s upcoming public meeting in the face of the shutdown. The Communications Act directs that “meetings of the commission shall be held at regular intervals, not less frequently than once each calendar month,” and FCC rules dictate that “every portion of every meeting shall be open to public observation.” However, in these unusual circumstances, where more than 80 percent of FCC staffers have been furloughed and most offices and phones are unattended, the meeting’s status is uncertain. If the shutdown does not end by January 30, the scheduled date of the meeting, the commissioners will have to decide how to hold the meeting, or even whether to. Laura said, “Basically, the whole process is thrown up in the air. This is very unprecedented… [A shutdown] never has jeopardized a monthly FCC meeting.”