Leadership situation in House Energy and Commerce remains fluid


Another couple of days, another set of developments in the contest to head the House Committee on Energy and Commerce when Republicans resume leadership in January. And on the Democratic side, another voice has spoken up to head the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet.

The key to the battle for chairman is the fate of current Ranking Member Joe Barton (R-TX). He is believed to be term-limited out of the top spot in the committee, but is arguing that time spent as Ranking Member shouldn’t count as leadership, only time in the chair should; or failing to get a favorable ruling on those grounds, he be granted a waiver to remain atop the Committee.

Greg Walden (R-OR), who is chairing a Republican transition committee, sees little chance that Barton’s interpretation of the rules will prevail, and believes that his only remaining route to the chair is via waiver.
Also vying for the chair are former Communications Subcommittee chair Fred Upton (R-MI), current Ranking Member Cliff Stearns (R-FL) and E&C Committee member John Shimkus (R-IL).

If Stearns gets the nod, that would open up the subcommittee chair, and Walden said he would be interested in filling it – and as a former radio group owner, he would come to the task with far more practical experience than most. The Hill’s Hillicon Valley suggests that the Republican caucus may even be interested in putting Walden there regardless of whether Stearns takes the full committee chair or not.

Meanwhile, shortly after Ed Markey (D-MA) withdrew as a serious candidate for the subcommittee ranking member role, another name has come up. Markey’s exit left speculation centered on Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Mike Doyle (D-PA) to fill the leadership role that is left vacant following the 11/2/10 re-election defeat of current lame duck Chairman Rick Boucher (D-VA).

Add to the list Bobby Rush (D-IL). He has frequently been a player in communications issues on the Hill, weighing in on the Comcast/NBCU merger, the Sirius XM merger, minority tax certificates, Don Imus and many other issues.