Waxman may push committee's oversight role

Under the leadership of Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the House Energy and Commerce Committee is expected to increase emphasis on government accountability and pursue a transparency agenda. To start that off, high-tech and telecommunications industry insiders are pointing to an investigation into the FCC the panel initiated in January. The FCC probe, which was led by Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Bart Stupak, D-Mich., is complete and a report will be issued in the coming weeks, an aide said.

"To the extent that Dingell started this FCC inquiry, I think Waxman will finish it," Public Knowledge President Gigi Sohn said, adding the agency is "overripe for reform."

More broadly, Waxman's California connection means strong ties to the high-tech sector, Information Technology Industry Council Government Relations Director Kara Calvert said. But others worry that Waxman, whose district includes parts of Hollywood and Beverly Hills, could help movie studios and record labels that want Congress to pass stronger intellectual property protection laws.

"To the extent that Hollywood wants to mix copyright with commerce, I hope [Waxman] understands the place for reforming copyright is in the Judiciary Committee," Sohn said.

She is concerned that calls for a "broadcast flag," which would require digital television tuners to include content protection technologies, will resurface. A federal court struck down such an FCC mandate in 2005 after Sohn's group and others complained the proposal would unfairly restrict a viewer's ability to use digital video recorders and other devices.

Competitive Enterprise Institute Vice President Wayne Crews said Waxman could offer a mixed bag of legislation, but he is most concerned about the panel's direction on network neutrality, a proposal to ban discrimination of Internet content by broadband firms. Although he is not a member of the Energy and Commerce Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee and has a spotty record of attending high-tech oriented hearings, Waxman supports the proposal and is expected to work with the Obama administration on legislation, sources said. Crews also said he anticipates the return of the "fairness doctrine," a defunct FCC policy requiring broadcasters to give balanced airtime to opposing views. Aides to President-elect Obama have said he does not want to reinstitute it despite recent reports that some House Democrats want to revive it.

Many have wondered whether Waxman's chairmanship will lead to a changing of the guard on key subcommittees. One high-tech industry source indicated ousted panel chairman Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., may yearn for a larger role on the subcommittees for Telecommunications and the Internet, led in the 110th Congress by Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass.; the Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va.; or Health, led by Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J.

"Dingell can have whatever he wants," the official said, noting that energy and health care are presumably among Waxman's top agenda items. A committee spokeswoman did not immediately respond to inquiries about plans for Dingell, now chairman emeritus.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.