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Posted at 12:47 PM ET, 12/10/2010

Upton announces GOP Commerce members -- who likely won't focus on telecom

By The Washington Post editors

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who will take over as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the next Congress, on Friday welcomed 12 new Republican members to the committee. They will join returning member Greg Walden (R-Or.)

“We have a great team with diverse backgrounds to deliver what the American people expect and demand - we will repeal Obamacare, cut spending, eliminate rampant, job-killing regulations, fortify our energy security, and help create jobs," Upton said in a release. "I look forward to working with all of our members to put the country back to work and back on track."

The new Republican lineup:
Charlie Bass (N.H.)
Brian Bilbray (Calif.)
Bill Cassidy (La.)
Cory Gardner (Colo.)
Morgan Griffith (Va.)
Brett Guthrie (Ky.)
Gregg Harper (Miss.)
Adam Kinzinger (Ill.)
David McKinley (W.Va.)
Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.)
Pete Olson (Tx.)
Mike Pompeo (Kan.)
Greg Walden (Or.)

PostTech called some industry analysts to get a sense of how Upton may affect policy in the next session. He is known and respected for his extensive knowledge of telecom issues, particularly from his tenure as the head of the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet from 2001-2006. But analysts believe that, as chair, he probably won't have a lot of time to spend on telecom issues.

Analyst Rebecca Arbogast of Stifel-Nicolaus, a St. Louis-based investment firm, said that Republicans will most likely start off by aggressively pursuing oversight of the Democratic administration's agencies, but are unlikely to focus their energies exclusively on telecommunications. "First priorities are probably elsewhere," Arbogast said.
Another industry analyst agreed with that sentiment, noting that Upton ran for the chairmanship mainly by pledging to be tough on energy and health care issues.

One area Upton may focus on, however, is net neutraliry. He has come out strongly against the Federal Communication Commission's ideas on net neutrality, even asking the FCC to "cease and desist" their efforts.

Arbogast said she'd be interested to see whether or not Upton will focus his eye on spectrum legislation as well, but said the most interesting development may have nothing to do with policy.

Partisan politics, to be sure, may change the entire relationship between the committee and the telecommunications agencies it oversees. There are several issues with more bipartisan support such as privacy protection and advertising regulation. What remains to be seen is whether the two parties can build any kind of coalition.

"The larger question," Arbogast said, "is how much are Republicans interested in working with Democrats."

By The Washington Post editors  | December 10, 2010; 12:47 PM ET
Categories:  Comcast, FCC, FTC, Net Neutrality, Privacy  
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