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“In order to ensure that these funds are used most effectively in supporting U.S. economic growth and a continuity of service—especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic—I urge the FCC to institute a ‘Buy American’ request to all satellite operators.”

WASHINGTON — Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai requesting that the FCC use C-band auction funds to purchase satellites from U.S. manufacturers to support American workers and families.

“The deployment of nationwide 5G networks and services is believed to be vital to American technological and economic leadership. I am writing you today as I strongly believe that funds raised from this U.S. government-led auction should advantage the American manufacturing base and support job growth here in the United States,” wrote Kennedy.

“Given that U.S. taxpayers are effectively footing the bill for these assets—assets that are already owned by the taxpayer—it makes good sense to require an investment in the American industrial base. In order to ensure that these funds are used most effectively in supporting U.S. economic growth and a continuity of service—especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic—I urge the FCC to institute a ‘Buy American’ request to all satellite operators,” he continued.

Foreign satellite operators, which have been using American airwaves at no cost, originally promised to purchase satellites from American manufacturers as they transitioned to using a different part of the spectrum. However, these foreign operators are now planning to invest in launch vehicles, ground equipment and satellites produced by foreign manufacturers, meaning that American taxpayers are being forced to invest in foreign producers.

“It looks like foreign satellite operators are taking the first chance they’ve gotten to break their promises. They pledged to purchase satellites from U.S. manufacturers, but now they’re planning to shop overseas, at great expense to American taxpayers. This isn’t a done deal, though, and I encourage these foreign satellite firms to rethink their plans,” said Kennedy.

The American aerospace industry typically contributes hundreds of billions of dollars to U.S. gross domestic product each year and supports hundreds of thousands of American jobs.

The full letter is available here.