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Calendar No. 224
111th Congress Report
1st Session SENATE 111-105
AMATEUR RADIO EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS ENHANCEMENT ACT OF 2009
December 10, 2009.--Ordered to be printed
Mr. Lieberman, from the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental
Affairs, submitted the following
R E P O R T
[To accompany S. 1755]
The Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental
Affairs, to which was referred the bill (S. 1755) to direct the
Department of Homeland Security to undertake a study on
emergency communications, having considered the same, reports
favorably thereon without amendment and recommends that the
bill do pass.
I. Purpose and Summary..............................................1
II. Background and Need for the Legislation..........................1
III. Legislative History..............................................2
IV. Section-by-Section Analysis......................................2
V. Evaluation of Regulatory Impact..................................3
VI. Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate........................3
I. PURPOSE AND SUMMARY
S. 1755 seeks to determine how to harness the ability of
the hundreds of thousands of American amateur radio operators
who comprise the Amateur Radio Service to offer organized and
orderly help to the government in times of emergency. It does
so by directing the Secretary of Homeland Security to study,
write a report on, and make recommendations with respect to the
uses and capabilities of the Amateur Radio Service.
II. BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR THE LEGISLATION
Nearly 700,000 U.S. residents have licenses to operate
amateur radios. Anyone seeking to use amateur radios in the
United States must receive a license to do so from the Federal
Communications Commission; licensees thereby become part of the
Amateur Radio Service. These operators play a vital role in
communications during natural disasters and other emergencies
when traditional phone lines may not function and cell phone
services and other devices become overwhelmed. Volunteer radio
operators provided these services during hurricanes Katrina,
Rita, Hugo, and Andrew, during the relief effort at the World
Trade Center and the Pentagon following the 2001 terrorist
attacks, and during the Oklahoma City bombing in April 1995.
These services provided invaluable assistance on these and
other occasions. The study commissioned by this bill will serve
to further examine the utility of strengthening and expanding
the capabilities of these operators for future emergencies.
III. LEGISLATIVE HISTORY
On October 6, 2009, Senators Joseph Lieberman and Susan
Collins introduced S. 1755, which was referred to the Committee
on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. The Committee
favorably reported the bill by a voice vote on November 4,
2009. Members present for the vote on the bill were Senators
Lieberman, Levin, Akaka, Carper, Pryor, Landrieu, Burris,
Collins, and Bennett.
IV. SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS
Section 1. Short title
Section 1 designates the name of the act as the ``Amateur
Radio Emergency Communications Enhancement Act of 2009.''
Section 2. Findings
Section 2 states Congress' findings regarding the value of
services provided by amateur radio service operators.
Section 3. Study of enhanced uses of amateur radio in emergency and
disaster relief communication and for relief of restrictions
Subsection (a) requires the Secretary of Homeland Security
to undertake a study examining the uses and capabilities of
Amateur Radio Service communications in emergencies and
disaster relief and submit a report to Congress on the findings
of the study within 180 days of enactment of this act.
Subsection (b) provides that the study shall include a
review of the extent to which amateur radio emergency
communications can support homeland security missions relating
to disasters, severe weather, and other threats to lives and
property in the United States. The report must also provide
recommendations for enhancements in the voluntary deployment of
amateur radio licensees in relief efforts and improved
integration of amateur radio operators in planning and
furtherance of homeland security initiatives. The
recommendations should also identify impediments to Amateur
Radio Service communications and make recommendations regarding
such impediments for consideration by other Federal
departments, agencies, and Congress.
Subsection (c) requires the Secretary to utilize the
expertise of stakeholder entities and organizations for the
purposes of conducting this study.
V. EVALUATION OF REGULATORY IMPACT
Pursuant to the requirements of paragraph 11(b) of rule
XXVI of the Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee has
considered the regulatory impact of this bill. The
Congressional Budget Office states that the bill contains no
intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and would not effect state, local,
and tribal governments. The enactment of this legislation will
not have significant regulatory impact.
VI. CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE COST ESTIMATE
November 6, 2009.
Hon. Joseph I. Lieberman,
Chairman, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, U.S.
Senate, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 1755, the Amateur
Radio Emergency Communications Enhancement Act of 2009.
If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Daniel
Douglas W. Elmendorf,
S. 1755--Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Enhancement Act of 2009
CBO estimates that implementing S. 1755 would have no
significant cost over the next five years. Enacting this
legislation would not affect direct spending or revenues.
S. 1755 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and
would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal
The bill would direct the Department of Homeland Security
to conduct a study on the uses and capabilities of the Amateur
Radio Service during and after a disaster or emergency. The
study would be completed within 180 days of enactment of this
legislation. Based on the costs of similar studies, CBO
estimates that implementing S. 1755 would cost less than
$500,000, subject to the availability of appropriated funds.
The Amateur Radio Service is a voluntary organization made
up of qualified people with a nonmonetary interest in radio.
Amateur radio operators are licensed by the Federal
Communications Commission based on skill and knowledge.
Licensed operators may use a number of small, shared frequency
bands to communicate through voice, teleprinting, telegraphy,
facsimile, and television. During emergencies, amateur radio
operators provide alerts and other communications in place of
and in tandem with federal, state, and local government
agencies and private relief organizations, such as the American
The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Daniel Hoople.
This estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy Assistant
Director for Budget Analysis.