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Republican indecision delays FCC Chairman vote

Yesterday, the Senate Commerce Committee announced it would hold a confirmation hearing for Mr. G, Julius Genachowski, to move forward on his nomination to be chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Today, the hearing was canceled.

If you are asking “WTF?,” join the club.

Apparently, says a Wall Street Journal blog and various other mutterings of sources around Capital Hill, the Republicans threatened to boycott the hearing because lawmakers want a REPUBLICAN FCC commissioner to be bundled with Genachowski’s hearing.  A new hearing won’t be scheduled until after Memorial day, thereby further delaying the process.

Of course, the Republican leadership hasn’t announced a candidate for the Republican spot on the commission. Senators are also talking about kicking Robert McDowell — one of the more honorable personages to hold a commission seat, IMHO — to the curb, which is creating further behind-the scenes machinations.

Former Commerce Department official and daughter-in-law of former Bush Secretary of State James Baker Meredith Attwell Baker appears to be the favorite pick of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, ranking member of the Commerce Committee.

McDowell’s term is up in June.  Apparently AT&T lobbyists, lead by a former crony of former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, want “a new slate” and since McDowell recused himself from voting on the AT&T/Bell South merger — despite pressure from Martin — now is the best time for new faces.

Doesn’t hurt tha Dallas-based AT&T contributed $44,300 in various campaign contributions to Ms. Hutchinson, who is looking to run for govenor of Texas.

The delay in approving a new commissioner at the FCC is slowing things down, since acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps is focusing on the DTV transition and doesn’t want to set policy on other issues since he knows Julius is waiting in the wings.  The not-so-little matter of a national broadband plan the FCC must produce by February looms large.

Best source: Wall Street Journal blog post.

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