The Federal Communications Commission will have to decide whether or how it will hold its January 30 monthly public meeting if the government shutdown lasts through the end of the month. 

The Communications Act requires that “meetings of the commission shall be held at regular intervals, not less frequently once each calendar month,” and FCC rules dictate that “every portion of every meeting shall be open to public observation.” The meeting agenda includes an inquiry to expand caller ID protections, evening out subsidies offered to different voice and broadband carriers in high-cost areas, setting fair procedures for licensing certain categories of new TV and radio stations, eliminating a broadcast reporting requirement, and streamlining a communications accessibility program for the hearing-impaired.  

In an unprecedented situation, with more than 80 percent of the agency’s staffers furloughed, the FCC, if it decides to hold the meeting, will have to discern who will answer questions and who will update meeting items before and after votes.  The commissioners could also simply discuss the agenda items without voting on the matters or hold a conference call to substantively discuss the matters at hand.  

Troutman Sanders will continue to monitor and report on FCC developments.