The ranking member position of the 111th Congress’s Energy and Commerce Committee will be the chair of the 112th – and even though by Republican rules current RM Joe Barton (R-TX) is term-limited from holding that chair, he is actively pursuing support from his party’s large crop of incoming freshmen.
According to The Hill, Barton is touting not so much his plans to try to undo the 111th’s health care package in particular (part of E&C’s responsibility) and his conservative positions in general. He also is telling the freshmen that he will support John Boehner (R-OH) for speaker. Boehner, of course, could have a lot to say about granting Barton’s request for a waiver of party policy so he can remain atop the committee.
Former Communications Subcommittee Fred Upton is widely viewed as a potential head of the committee should Barton’s effort fail. Another longshot contender is current subcom RM Cliff Stearns (R-FL). But according to Hill blog Hillicon Valley, two new contenders are being mentioned for that committee. One is former radio group owner Greg Walden (R-OR), whose stock within the party’s House leadership structure has been steadily rising. Another is Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), although her candidacy is said to be a long shot.
The Democrat atop the subcommittee is on the way out – Rick Boucher (D-VA) is about to become Rick Boucher, private citizen. Early speculation has centered on the possible return of Ed Markey (D-MA) to the subcommittee, or the ascension of Anna Eshoo (D-CA). Now a third name has arisen: Mike Doyle (D-PA), a member who has frequently shown interest in communications legislation.
RBR-TVBR observation: Let’s put this merry-go-round through the PRA litmus test. Walden, Stearns and Upton have all signed on to the Local Radio Freedom Act. Blackburn, on the other hand, is a co-sponsor of PRA. The rest may have their opinions but are signed on to neither one nor the other document.