[Congressional Record Volume 143, Number 53 (Tuesday, April 29, 1997)]
[Pages S3799-S3802]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


      By Mr. KERREY:
  S. 663. A bill to enhance taxpayer value in auctions conducted by the 
Federal Communications Commission; to the Committee on Commerce, 
Science, and Transportation.

                         the reserve price act

  Mr. KERREY. Mr. President, for most Americans a buck doesn't go very 
far. A dollar will not buy a cup of coffee at Starbucks, it will not 
buy a comic book at the 7-11, it will not buy a package of batteries at 
the True Value store, or even a gallon of gas at the Amoco station. 
But, at the FCC, a buck will buy a radio license to serve the city of 
St. Louis.
  On Friday, the FCC completed an auction of radio spectrum which 
should cause every American taxpayer to be concerned. This action 
yielded less than 1 percent of the amount anticipated. Rather than 
raising $1.8 billion as the Congress had expected, the FCC brought in 
only $13.6 million.
  Perhaps worse of all, several licenses were awarded to bidders for 
the incredible sum of $1. That's well below the bargain basement. Mike 
Mills of the Washington Post aptly observed that a sign should be put 
in front of the FCC auction headquarters advertising ``everything for a 
buck.'' One bidder won four licenses at a dollar a piece. Those 
licenses combined would allow services to reach 15 million people. 
Another bidder won the right to serve St. Louis, one of the largest 
cities in America for $1. It is as if we had returned to the days of 
license lotteries. That's one heck of a way to stretch a dollar.
  Radio spectrum is a national asset. It must be prudently managed. The 
taxpayers count on the Federal Communications Commission to allocate 
spectrum among and between various uses to assure that the public 
interest is served and to assure that those uses do not interfere with 
each other.
  In 1993, the Congress enacted legislation which revolutionized the 
way radio frequencies are allocated. After years of debate, the 
Congress took the step to authorized the Federal Communications 
Commission to use auctions to allocate licenses for radio spectrum. It 
was built on the premise that investors would pay for the right to 
offer new wireless communications services.
  Prior to 1993, licenses were awarded by lottery or by a comparative 
application process. In both cases, license winners would often sell 
their licenses soon after acquiring them to others for substantial 
  To cut out the middle man and give taxpayers a return from the 
valuable rights they were awarding, the Congress ordered the FCC to 
conduct auctions to award radio spectrum licenses.
  In general, this approach has worked very well. It has proven to be 
an efficient means of allocating scarce resources and it has reaped 
billions of dollars of deficit reduction for the American taxpayer.
  Unfortunately, something went wrong in this last auction. One problem 
was that the auction rules did not establish a minimum bid or a reserve 
price. That's how some lucky bidders won valuable licenses for a buck.
  Mr. President, I offer legislation today which will help ensure that 
taxpayers are protected in future FCC auctions. The importance of this 
legislation is heightened by the increasing congressional reliance on 
spectrum auctions in telecommunications and budget policy. The 
President's budget alone relies on $36 billion of revenues from 
spectrum auctions.
  The Reserve Price Act requires the FCC to set a minimum price for 
each unit auctioned. If no one bids the minimum, then what is not sold 
will be re-evaluated and placed in the next scheduled auction. With a 
reserve price system, taxpayers will be guaranteed that national assets 
are not sold for a song.
  The Chairman of the FCC reportedly said that the reason for the 
disappointing return from Friday's auction was the ``the Congress got 
to greedy'' with spectrum revenues. Perhaps, this auction was rushed. 
But with reserve prices, even a rushed auction would not have to be a 
disastrous auction.
  I urge my colleagues to review and support the Reserve Price Act. The 
American taxpayer deserves as much.

[[Page S3800]]

  I also ask unanimous consent that the text of the Reserve Price Act 
and a copy of Mike Mills' Washington Post article entitled ``Latest 
License Action Disappoints FCC'' be inserted in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:


       Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of 
     Representatives of the United States of America in Congress 


       This Act may be cited as the ``Reserve Price Act''.


       In any auction conducted or supervised by the Federal 
     Communications Commission (hereinafter the Commission) for 
     any license, permit or right which has value, a reasonable 
     reserve price shall be set by the Commission for each unit in 
     the auction. The reserve price shall establish a minimum bid 
     for the unit to be auctioned. If no bid is received above the 
     reserve price for a unit, the unit shall be retained. The 
     Commission shall re-assess the reserve price for that unit 
     and place the unit in the next scheduled or next appropriate 

               [From the Washington Post, Apr. 26, 1997]

                 Latest License Auction Disappoints FCC

    total comes up short of expectations in bargain-basement bidding

                            (By Mike Mills)

       They might as well have changed the sign at the FCC Auction 
     headquarters to ``Everything for a Buck.''
       Congress had expected the Federal Communications Commission 
     to pull in about $1.8 billion in its latest auction of a 
     slice of the airwaves, this one for companies that want to 
     offer wireless voice and data services. But when the bidding 
     stopped yesterday, the FCC found it had raised less than 1 
     percent of that amount, only $13.6 million.
       It was by far the most disappointing yield to date in the 
     auction program. In other bidding since the program began in 
     July 1994, winners have pledged about $23 billion to the 
     Treasury Department, far higher than initial projections.
       The FCC blamed yesterday's poor showing on Congress, saying 
     it didn't give the agency or the industry enough time to 
     prepare for the latest auction. But the low bids also might 
     be a sign that the market for airwave licenses is becoming 
     glutted, some analysts said.
       Either way, bargain-basement prices awaited the handful of 
     communications companies that cared to participate. McLeod 
     Inc. of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, actually bid $1 each for four 
     licenses in the Midwest covering areas with a 15 million 
     population--and won. Nobody countered its bid in 29 rounds.
       ``It was a fortunate opportunity,'' said Bryce Nemitz, 
     McLeod's vice president of corporate relations. ``There 
     wasn't any way for us to gauge the true value of those 
     licenses, so we bid the minimum.'' The company plans to use 
     the licenses for wireless utility meter reading, he said.
       According to FCC Chairman Reed E. Hundt, Congress got too 
     greedy last summer when it passed a law ordering the FCC to 
     quickly auction this chunk of frequencies by April 15, and to 
     make sure the money got to the Treasury by Sept. 30.
       The deadline gave the industry little time to prepare, 
     Hundt said. Equipment makers had no idea what the frequencies 
     could be used for. Potential bidders had difficulty raising 
     bidding money in capital markets.
       ``We were right when we told the industries and Congress 
     there wasn't enough lead time for this auction,'' Hundt said.
       But there were other problems. In February the FCC 
     announced restrictions that limited users of those 
     frequencies from offering certain mobile services because 
     they might interfere with a new satellite-based radio 
     service. And earlier this week, the FCC also said the new 
     license owners would have to accept other restrictions to 
     avoid interference with other services.
       Those limitations might have curbed interest in bidding, 
     but they didn't seem to bother the winners. BellSouth Corp. 
     was the top bidder, spending $6 million for 22 licenses. It 
     plans to offer wireless television service using the 
       Other firms aren't sure how they'll use the licenses. ``It 
     just got rushed to the market so soon that people just didn't 
     have time to get themselves together,'' said Thomas Sullivan 
     of TeleCorp, which won a St. Louis license for $1 and two 
     others for $60,000.
       For Congress, the $1.786 billion shortfall won't directly 
     affect any spending programs. But it will be a factor when 
     bean-counters next tally up the budget deficit, sources at 
     the Congressional Budget Office said.
       Some analysts suggest the auctions are a sign that the 
     auction process may be running out of steam. Some bidders who 
     paid surprisingly huge sums for wireless telephone licenses 
     earlier last year are now having big troubles raising the 
     money to pay for them. That spooked investors in a subsequent 
     auction last year for similar licenses, in which bidding fell 
     below expectations.
       The broadcasting lobby, which has so far successfully 
     avoided auctions of TV and radio licenses, and the results 
     make their case for killing the auction program.
       ``These sub-par receipts confirm what we have been saying 
     for months,'' said Dennis Wharton, spokesman for the National 
     Association of Broadcasters. ``Spectrum auctions have clearly 
     reached a point of diminishing returns.''
      By Mr. KENNEDY (for himself, Mrs. Murray, Ms. Mikulski, Mr. 
        Levin, Mr. Cleland, Mr. Inouye, Mr. Glenn, Mr. Dodd, Mr. 
        Wellstone, Mr. Kerry, Mr. Sarbanes, Mr. Daschle, and Mr. Ried):
  S. 664. A bill to establish tutoring assistance programs to help 
children learn to read well; to the Committee on Labor and Human 

                    the america reads challenge act

  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, it is a privilege to introduce President 
Clinton's America Reads Challenge Act. Today is the closing day of the 
President's summit for America's future. The summit's organizers and 
participants have sent a clear call about the importance of 
volunteerism and community involvement. The America Reads Challenge Act 
responds to that call and will provide volunteer tutors to help all 
children read well by the end of the third grade.
  Reading is a fundamental skill for learning, but too many children 
have trouble learning how to read. If students don't learn to read in 
the early elementary school years, it is virtually impossible for them 
to keep up later. According to one study, 40 percent of fourth grade 
students don't attain the basic level of reading, and 70 percent don't 
attain the proficient level.
  Research shows that reading skills are developed not only in the home 
and in the classroom, but also in communities and libraries. Sustained, 
quality reading experiences outside the regular school day and during 
the summer can raise reading levels when combined with high quality 
instruction. Only 30 minutes a day of reading aloud with an adult can 
enable a child to make real gains in reading. Adults also serve as role 
models for young children.
  The America Reads Challenge Act is intended to help all students 
learn to read--and read well--by the end of the third grade. It would 
provide Parents as First Teachers challenge grants. Recognizing that 
parents are the best first teachers, it supports programs and 
activities that help parents increase the reading skills of their 
  In addition, the act will provide America's Reading Corps grants to 
States and communities to help them establish or enhance literacy tutor 
programs. Some 25,000 reading specialists and tutor coordinators, 
including 11,000 AmeriCorps members, will participate in programs to 
mobilize 1 million volunteers to tutor 3 million children.
  The America Reads Challenge Act will provide $1.7 billion over the 
next 5 years to the Department of Education. It will also authorize the 
appropriation of $200 million a year from fiscal year 1998 through 
fiscal year 2002 to the Corporation for National Service. The act also 
builds on efforts of pre-school and elementary school programs, such as 
Head Start and title I, to help improve children's basic skills.
  I strongly support President Clinton's America Reads Challenge Act, 
and I hope it will receive the broad bipartisan support it deserves. 
Every child can learn to read, and every child deserves a chance to 
learn how to do it. No child should be left out or left behind.
  Ms. MIKULSKI. Mr. President, I join my colleagues Senators Kennedy 
and Murray in cosponsoring this important new initiative.
  The goal of this legislation is to launch a campaign to ensure that 
every child in our Nation can read independently by the end of the 
third grade. I believe that this is a worthwhile goal, which will have 
a wide-ranging impact on our Nation.
  We need to help our young children learn to read. It's the 
responsibility not only of parents but of schools, communities, civic 
groups, libraries, and business leaders. Some 40 percent of all 
children are now reading below the accepted level on national reading 
  This is a national crisis. Tens of thousands of students cannot read 
at the basic level. If students can't read well by the third grade, 
their chances for later success fall dramatically. These same students 
are likely to drop out of school; they will have problems with 
delinquency; and they will have fewer job options.

[[Page S3801]]

  I believe that the America Reads initiative will go a long way in 
providing much needed resources to parents, schools, and State and 
local communities to help our children learn to read.
  This bill would establish a corps of 1 million volunteer tutors and 
give States additional resources to hire 30,000 reading specialists to 
coordinate the corps volunteer tutors who will work with teachers, 
principals, and librarians to help children succeed in reading.
  I support mobilizing thousands of volunteers, but I also believe that 
the training and screening must be adequate, especially when we place 
anyone in our Nation's classrooms. These are issues that my colleagues 
and I will be addressing.
  We also want to help parents. This bill establishes Parents as First 
Teachers challenge grants, which invests in success by 
supporting effective and proven local efforts that assist parents who 
request help to better work with their children.

  The President has also called upon colleges and universities across 
the country to dedicate half of their new work study funds to support 
100,000 college students to serve as reading tutors. Already hundreds 
of colleges and universities across the country have pledged to have 
their work study students help children learn to read. In my State of 
Maryland, Anne Arundel Community College, Bowie State University, 
Frostburg State University, and the University of Maryland at College 
Park have all committed to the America Reads initiative.
  We also want accountability. This legislation will use the 
improvements in the National Assessment of Educational Progress [NAEP] 
to provide an annual measure of the reading performance of 4th graders 
and their progress toward meeting the reading challenge.
  Both the Corporation for National Service and the Department of 
Education will oversee and manage this program. The Corporation for 
National Service has the expertise to pull together the AmeriCorps 
volunteers and has the infrastructure in place to help mobilize the 
volunteers. The Department of Education has the knowledge and resources 
to really make this program accountable.
  I support utilizing the resources that we already have in place with 
AmeriCorps. I know that thousands of AmeriCorps volunteers across the 
country are already in the schools tutoring children. In Maryland, 
AmeriCorps volunteers are already in public schools tutoring and 
mentoring students.
  And, companies too are leading the way with innovative methods of 
teaching our children to read. Sylvan Learning Center, which is 
headquartered in my State of Maryland, is a company that has been 
having great success with its methods to help children learn to read. 
Sylvan operates tutoring centers across the country. The centers have 
produced measurable results with children. The centers are community-
based facilities. The student to teacher ratio never exceeds 3:1. 
Sylvan's approach consists of individualized instruction, variety, a 
creative motivational system, and parent and teacher involvement. It is 
an approach that works and can be one of the models that we use for the 
America Reads Program.

  Why does this approach work? Because specialists can tailor a program 
to meet an individual student's needs. In many overcrowded classrooms 
across our country, it's simply impossible for a teacher in charge of 
30 or 40 students to give one student who's having problems extra 
  I don't believe that America Reads is a substitute for in-school 
instruction nor is it a substitute for parental involvement.
  What we're talking about providing is individualized after school, 
weekend, and summer reading tutoring for nearly 3 million children a 
year from kindergarten through third grade [K-3] who want and need 
extra help. This will supplement the learning that is taking place 
during classroom hours. What's more important is that this tutoring 
will take place at no cost to parents and students.
  I know that there has been criticism about having a literacy program 
directly aimed at children in K-3. I have to disagree with this 
criticism. Schools cannot do it alone. Many public schools simply do 
not have the resources to give students the one-on-one attention they 
  We have to launch a large-scale effort to tackle our Nation's youth 
literacy problem. I believe we need to mobilize and train volunteers to 
come into the schools to help our children learn to read. I believe we 
need to hire reading specialists to help our Nation's children. 
Teachers cannot do it alone. And parents need our help.
  When 40 percent of our Nation's children cannot read on level by the 
third grade, we must ask ourselves as a nation what we're doing wrong 
and how we can correct it. This is a widespread problem that crosses 
gender, racial, and religious lines.
  As the Nation begins to enter the 21st century, we cannot have our 
young people--our future--lagging behind in basic skills. This affects 
our Nation as a whole. It affects our Nation's productivity. It affects 
our work force. When these children become adults, they will not have 
the basic skills needed to survive.

  Reading is an ongoing activity. And, if we want our children to 
succeed, if we want to promote work force readiness, and if we want to 
raise academic standards in our schools, then we have to reach our 
children in their early stages of development.
  I hear from teachers, administrators, and counselors in my State 
about the dismal crisis in public schools. Many children come to school 
from impoverished backgrounds. Many children come to school either 
abused themselves or the witness to domestic abuse in the home. With 
all of these obstacles, it's even more difficult for teachers to teach 
and for students to learn to read.
  That's why I am supporting this bold, new initiative. The idea is to 
use the resources that our Nation already has--libraries, volunteers, 
students, businesses, and civic organizations--to help our most 
precious resource--our youth. I urge my colleagues to support this 
      By Mr. KERREY:
  S. 665. A bill to monitor the progress of the Telecommunications Act 
of 1996; to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

             the telecommunications act progress report act

 Mr. KERREY. Mr. President, the Department of Justice has 
approved the merger of the Bell Atlantic and Nynex Corporations. While 
this is a matter within the discretion and jurisdiction of the 
Department, I rise to express my concern and disappointment with this 
  With this merger, two strong potential competitors with two vibrant, 
rich markets have combined.
  Bell Atlantic/Nynex will control more than 25 percent of all access 
lines in the United States and would serve 26 million customers. The 
merger is the second largest in U.S. history and the new company will 
rank among the 25 largest U.S. companies.
  A little more than a year ago, the Congress enacted landmark 
legislation to open telecommunications markets to competition, preserve 
and advance universal service and spur private investment in 
telecommunication infrastructure. Over the last year, the Federal 
Communications Commission has worked overtime to implement the new law. 
It has been a daunting task.
  While the FCC struggles with implementation of the new law, it is 
important to remember that a key part of that legislation did not rely 
on regulation, it relied on the marketplace. The idea was to unleash 
pent up competitive forces among and between telecommunications 
  This transaction replaces the urge to compete with the urge to merge.
  To unshackle the restraints of the modified final judgment which 
controlled the break up of AT&T, the Congress gave regional Bell 
operating companies instant access to long-distance markets outside of 
their local service regions and access to long-distance markets inside 
their regions when they opened their markets to local competition as 
measured by the bill's competitive checklist.
  In addition to responding to the lure of long-distance markets, 
regional Bell operating companies and other local exchange carriers 
were expected to covet each other's markets. The attraction of serving 
markets like New

[[Page S3802]]

York City, Baltimore, and Washington, DC, with local and long distance 
products was to be a key catalyst for breaking down barriers to 
competition. Who knows better what is needed to compete for local 
exchange customers in a new market better than another local exchange 
  With this transaction, local competition and long-distance 
competition is lost. In addition, potential internet, video and broad-
band competition has disappeared.
  The promise of the new law was that competition, not consolidation 
would bring new services at lower prices to consumers. Where 
competition failed to advance service and restrain prices, universal 
service support would assure that telephone rates and services were 
comparable in rural and urban areas.
  When large telecommunications companies combine, they not only 
eliminate the potential of competition with each other in each other's 
markets, but they create a market power which may be capable of 
resisting competition from others. They also create the possibility of 
an unequal bargaining power when they compete with or deal with small, 
independent and new carriers.
  A strong role for the Department of Justice was my No. 1 cause when 
the full Senate considered the Telecommunications Act. I supported 
final passage of the law because the conference committee bolstered the 
Department's authority as compared to the Senate version of the bill. 
The legislation relied on the existing, strong antitrust powers of the 
Department of Justice. It also removed the FCC's ability to bypass 
Department of Justice antitrust review.
  As we measure progress against promise, it is vitally important that 
the Congress have sufficient information to assure that those powers 
are sufficient to promote competition, affordable prices and universal 
  Mr. President, I am introducing legislation today to monitor the 
progress of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. This bill instructs the 
National Telecommunications and Information Administration, in 
consultation with the Federal Communications Commission, the Department 
of Justice, other executive branch agencies and State regulatory 
utility commissions to issue an annual report to the Congress on 
telecommunications services in America.
  The report would review available information and consider at a 
minimum the level of competition, the provision of universal service in 
telecommunications markets, mergers among telecommunications providers 
and their effect, employment in the American telecommunications 
industry and the affordability of residential rates for 
telecommunications services. The report will also make legislative and 
policy recommendations to the Congress and the President.
   Mr. President, I believe that if properly implemented, the 
Telecommunications Act of 1996 can deliver on its promises of 
competition, affordable rates, universal service, jobs, and investment. 
I am not prepared to recommend major change to the 1996 law, but I am 
prepared to argue for a higher level of competitive vigilance by this 
Congress and the executive branch.
      By Mr. LAUTENBERG:
  S. 666. A bill to amend title 18, United States Code, with respect to 
States that do not give full faith and credit to the protective orders 
of other States; to the Committee on the Judiciary.


 Mr. LAUTENBERG. Mr. President, today I am introducing 
legislation that will help ensure that States live up to their 
responsibility to give full faith and credit to protective orders 
issued in other States.
  In the 1994 Crime Act, as part of the Violence Against Women Act, 
Congress passed a provision requiring states to enforce the protection 
orders issued in sister States.
  What this means, Mr. President, is that if a woman has secured a 
protective order against her husband in New Jersey, and then goes to 
Pennsylvania to stay with her parents and her husband follows her, 
Pennsylvania is obligated to enforce the New Jersey protective order.
  This is common sense, it will protect the lives and well-being of 
countless threatened women, and is the law. However, for some reason 
States have been disregarding their legal obligation to enforce these 
  Mr. President, it seems that the only way to get the States to live 
up to this obligation is to threaten some of their Federal funding.
  Accordingly, the bill I am introducing today allows the Attorney 
General to withhold 10 percent of all formula Byrne grant crime 
fighting funds given to a State if it is failing to enforce out-of-
State protective orders. Although I believe that these funds are an 
important crime prevention and crime fighting tool, it has become clear 
that there must be some mechanism to ensure that States live up to 
their responsibilities to victims of domestic abuse.
  Mr. President, violence against women is one of our country's most 
heinous and pressing crimes. Every 12 seconds a woman is battered. 
About 10 times more women are victimized annually by domestic violence 
than are diagnosed with breast cancer. These figures reflect only 
reported crimes--the actual incidence rates are even higher.
  According to the FBI, domestic violence is the single most common 
source of injury among women ages 15 to 44, more common than auto 
accidents, muggings, and rape by a stranger combined.
  Protective orders are an important device in combating domestic 
violence, and protecting women who have already been battered from 
further harm. But they are only effective if they are enforced.
  So, Mr. President, I hope my colleagues will support the bill, and 
ask unanimous consent that a copy of the legislation be printed in the 
  There being no objection, the bill was ordered to be printed in the 
Record, as follows:

                                 S. 666

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,


       Section 2265 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by 
     adding at the end the following:
       ``(d) Formula Grant Reduction for Noncompliance.--
       ``(1) In general.--Beginning with the second fiscal year 
     commencing after the date of enactment of this subsection, 
     and in each fiscal year thereafter, if a State is not in 
     compliance with subsections (a) and (b), the Attorney General 
     shall reduce by 10 percent the amount that the State would 
     otherwise receive for that fiscal year under subpart 1 of 
     part E of title I of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe 
     Streets Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 3751 et seq.).
       ``(2) Redistribution of amounts.--In any fiscal year, the 
     total amount remaining for distribution under subpart 1 of 
     part E of title I of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe 
     Streets Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 3751 et seq.) by operation of 
     paragraph (1), shall be distributed on a pro rata basis among 
     States that--
       ``(A) are eligible to receive a grant under subpart 1 of 
     part E of title I of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe 
     Streets Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 3751 et seq.); and
       ``(B) are in compliance with subsections (a) and (b) of 
     this section.''.