Many are expecting conflict on the Republican side of the aisle in Capitol Hill in the wake of a second consecutive disappointing election season, but it looks like a huge battle is shaping up on the Democratic side instead. Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-MI), who seemingly has been either the chair or the ranking member of the committee since its inception, is said to be facing a serious challenge for the gavel from Henry Waxman (D-CA), who currently presides over the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The Oversight committee occasionally delves into issues of interest to those in the broadcast and communications communities, but Commerce is where they are most likely to be handled.
RBR/TVBR observation: Both of these veteran legislators have a reputation as grillmasters when it comes to questioning witnesses called before their committees. It’s not like one will be easier to deal with than the other – and for this reason, as entertaining as a battle between two powerful stags with a full rack of antlers may be, there is very little hanging in the balance for broadcasters. We suspect that there is little to choose from between them (although Waxman was one of the very, very few legislators to oppose the imposition of six-figure indecency fines). The battle is said to hinge on the environment – Waxman is ultra-green, while Dingell shows more deference to Michigan’s auto industry.