Last Friday, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), was selected as chairwoman of the House Communications & Technology Subcommittee, thus replacing former subcommittee chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), who recently ascended to the chairmanship of the House Energy & Commerce Committee.
Walden—who is taking the reins of the House Energy & Commerce Committee from Fred Upton (R-MI) who had reached the limit of his term—announced to the press that former House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX) will serve as vice chairman of the full committee. Blackburn had served previously in that role, and Walden also confirmed that Leonard Lance (R-NJ) will serve as vice chairman of the House Communications Subcommittee under Blackburn. Additionally, Reps. Bob Latta (R-OH) and Gregg Harper (R-MS) will serve respectively as the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Digital Commerce & Consumer Protection which was known formerly as the House Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee. Meanwhile, in one key change on the Democratic side, Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) announced yesterday that Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) will replace Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) as ranking member of the House Communications Subcommittee. The leadership of the Senate Commerce Committee and Senate Communications Subcommittee, chaired respectively by Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Roger Wicker (R-MS), remains unchanged.
Broadcast and telecommunications industry executives welcomed the news of Blackburn’s appointment. Lauding Blackburn’s experience “with many of the most critical issues in telecommunications and technology,” Telecommunications Industry Association Senior Vice President James Reid predicted that, with Blackburn’s “understanding of the role technology can play . . . in advancing employment and economic growth, we expect she will pursue a very positive, aggressive agenda.” As Meredith Attwell Baker, the CEO of wireless association CTIA, praised Blackburn as “a powerful voice for common sense privacy rules and broadband policies that support innovation,” National Association of Broadcasters President Gordon Smith said, “we look forward to working with her on behalf of viewers and listeners . . . to ensure our communications laws and a reformed FCC enable a competitive media marketplace.” Meanwhile, as she described her appointment as “an honor,” Blackburn told reporters: “I think you will see us address a net neutrality fix early in [this] Congress” which “is going to give those of you in the industry the certainty you need.”