Senate Committee revives specialist panel


Awhile back, broadcasting issues on Capitol Hill were so white hot that the Senate Commerce Committee decided to forego a special subcommittee to handle matters initially and took up every issue before the full committee membership. But it’s been almost six years since Michael Powell stirred up a hornets nest with his 2003 broadcast ownership deregulation package, and five since Janet Jackson had her little faux pas onstage during the Super Bowl halftime show, and things have cooled down a good bit. So the Subcommittee of Communications and Technology has now taken its rightful place among Commerce’s subcommittee lineup under the gavel of John Kerry (D-MA).

Joining Kerry on the Democratic side of the aisle are Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Bill Nelson (D-FL),  Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Mark Pryor (D-AR),  Claire McCaskill (D-MO),  Amy Klobuchar (D-MN),  Tom Udall (D-NM),  Mark Warner (D-VA), Mark Begich (D-AK), and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)  (full committee chair, ex officio).

John Ensign (R-NV) is Ranking Member, and is joined by Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Jim DeMint (R-SC), John Thune (R-SD), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), David Vitter (R-LA), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Mel Martinez (R-FL), Mike Johanns (R-NE) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) (full committee ranking member, ex officio).

RBR/TVBR observation: It is no surprise to find Dorgan among the Democrats – he has been the party’s point on most communications issues in this young millennium. The Dems, who start out with a two-vote advantage, will often get another from Snowe. Finally, two of the Republicans, Brownback and Martinez, have already announced that they won’t be running for reelection in 2010, and it’s widely believed Hutchison will also exit to pursue the Texas governorship.