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Early signs Texas’ influence in Congress growing

 - House committee issues new white paper on Telcom Act rewrite

Texas’ clout in Congress is growing as word leaks out on new committee assignments set to take effect when the new session begins in January.  The full slate of committees won’t be finalized until next month, but so far, the Lone Star State has garnered three plum committee chairmanships and is beefing up its presence on the two committees of greatest interest to broadcasters – Judiciary and Energy & Commerce.

Rep. Bill Flores, R-Waco, in just his second term will take the helm next month of the House Republican Study Committee which charts the policy course for the GOP in the lower chamber.  He also will join the House Energy & Commerce Committee.

Rep. Pete Olson, R-Sugar Land, already on Energy & Commerce, will take a seat on the Communications and Technology Subcommittee which develops broadcast policy for the full committee.

Incoming freshman Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Heath, landed a spot on the Judiciary Committee, which handles copyright policy, as well as the Homeland Security Committee.  Ratcliffe defeated Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Rockwall.

Brian Babin, one of three freshman Republican House members from Texas, has been given the nod to serve on the Transportation Committee.  Babin, a doctor and former pilot from Woodville, succeeded Steve Stockman who lost to Sen. John Cornyn this year in an ill-fated race for the Senate.

Assignments for the third freshman, Will Hurd of San Antonio, have not been announced. Hurd, the first African-American Republican elected to the House from Texas, is expected to receive start treatment as party leadership seeks to tout its gains of minority members.  He defeated Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine.

But West Texans need not despair.  Two of their own are advancing to the top of the committee hierarchy.  Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Midland, will take the helm of the Agriculture Committee, while Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Amarillo, will become chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

On the Senate side, no changes are anticipated, but still possible.  For now, Cornyn is set to serve as Majority Whip in addition to remaining on Senate Judiciary.  Sen. Ted Cruz will likely continue serving on both Energy & Commerce and Judiciary – which combined oversee all federal policy regarding broadcasting.

Texas’ growing influence in Congress will be increasingly important to local broadcasters as the committees take up a potential rewrite of not only the Telecommunications Act, but also the Copyright Act.

On the former, Communications & Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Oregon, recently released a white paper outlining issues pertaining to the retransmission consent system.

TAB and NAB will be working closely throughout the coming year to address lawmakers’ inquiries as these major policy reviews advance. Complete committee assignments will be relayed when announced.

Questions?  Contact TAB’s Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.

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