Armstrong: Tauzin-Dingell Dead in Senate

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Washington -- A House bill intended to deregulate the broadband services of
the Baby Bells can't pass the Senate, AT&T chairman C. Michael Armstrong
said Tuesday.

Armstrong -- whose company is spearheading the attack on a bill sponsored by
Reps. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) and John Dingell (D-Mich.) -- told the Senate
Commerce Committee in testimony that the House bill represented 'a serious
threat to local phone competition.'

After the hearing -- during which few lawmakers expressed support for opening
the Telecommunications Act of 1996 -- Armstrong told reporters the
Tauzin-Dingell bill could not obtain Senate approval.

'I don't think it's got a chance in the Senate because I think it's bad
policy, I think it's bad law and I think it has a bad outcome for consumers,'
Armstrong said.

Senate Commerce Committee chairman Ernest (Fritz) Hollings (D-S.C.) also took
a swipe at the bill, which Tauzin and Dingell said is necessary because the 1996
law did not foresee the Internet data revolution.

'It's the biggest bunch of nonsense I ever heard of,' Hollings said.

After noting that Tauzin, as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce
Committee, is deeply involved in the Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. tire-recall
debate, Hollings told Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), also a witness, to deliver a
message to Tauzin.

'Tell Billy . the tread is coming off the monopoly tire on the Senate side,'
Hollings said.

In other comments, Armstrong:

\u0007 Denied a report that AT&T was planning to lay off between 10,000 and
15,000 employees.

\u0007 Vowed that AT&T would cease marketing local phone service in New York
state 'if I don't have an economically and operationally viable
marketplace.'

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