House committee assignments in flux for Republicans


US CongressUnlike Democrats in the US House of Representatives, the Republicans put term limits on its committee chairs. And it looks like change is coming to the second-most important committee from the broadcaster perspective.

The committee is the House Judiciary – according to a Politico report, current chair Lamar Smith (R-TX) is headed for the exits, and will instead take up the gavel in the Science, Space and Technology Committee.

His replacement is likely to be Bob Goodlatte (R-VA).

The area in which Judiciary and broadcast interests overlap is usually the copyright issue – Judiciary has been the primary battleground when the Performance Rights Act has been under consideration. Goodlatte’s website is mum on that particular issue, other than to note that he is generally in favor of enforcing US intellectual property laws. He recently discussed this topic in a release referring to international piracy.

Of course, Republican members are back in their districts for most of the days between now and Election Day working to make sure their leaders go by the title Chair rather than Ranking Member.

RBR-TVBR observation: Fred Upton (R-MI) just took the gavel of the key Energy & Commerce Committee after the 2010 election, so he won’t be going anywhere. But there may be a change atop the even more key Communications Subcommittee. The chair of that panel is former radio group owner Greg Walden (R-OR), who provides an experienced broadcast voice at the most important House subcommittee of them all. He has been prominently mentioned as a prime candidate to head the National Republican Congressional Committee – whether he gets it, and whether taking on those duties would require him to give up the Communications gavel remain to be seen.