The buzz around Washington Monday--according to two sources--was that long-time legislator Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) was planning to announce his retirement from Congress after the current session, feeling he had done about as much as he was going to do in that post and preparing for "a new chapter."
He is ranking member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee and former chairman of the full Committee, as well as the Communications Subcommittee that oversees broadcasting, cable and satellite issues.
He was instrumental in drafting the broadcast incentive auction legislation that freed up spectrum for 5G, always with an eye toward protecting incumbent broadcaster signals post-transition, and funding their move.
If another former legislator, Sen. Gordon Smith, president of the National Association of Broadcasters--he has a contract through 2023 and plans on fulfilling it, said an NAB spokesperson--ever decides to start a new chapter, Walden, would be one of the first names mentioned if Walden were, indeed, to leave the House next year.
Walden is a former broadcaster who has pointed out he is probably the only member of Congress who has had to personally switch out a transmitter. He is also licensed amateur radio operator.
Walden has been a backer of broadcast and cable deregulation, including the current FCC's deregulation of cable internet access.
He is also a big fan of rural broadband buildouts given that he comes from a heavily rural district.
Earlier this year, Walden was cited by the Consumer Technology Association for helping smooth the digital TV transition and fighting hard for the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act ban on local and state taxes on internet access, as well as for his work on the RAY BAUMS Act, the first FCC reauthorization bill in 28 years. It was named after the late Energy & Commerce staff director and longtime Walden friend and colleague, who died last year.
He is also among a bipartisan chorus calling for serious consideration of breaking up, or at least shaking up, edge providers.
Walden has been in the House since 1998. Before that he was a member of the Oregon House and Senate.
“Greg Walden is not only a highly effective and well respected policymaker, but he is a personal friend who I have had the pleasure to work closely with for the past two decades," said NCTA-The Internet & Television Association President Michael Powell. "It is rare to encounter a leader who works as hard as Greg Walden to deeply understand complex policy issues, seek pragmatic and workable solutions, all while maintaining a positive and open-hearted approach to those with whom he works. Greg has been at the forefront at modernizing U.S. communications and spectrum policy, which has secured the United States’ leadership in both the broadband and wireless sectors. The state of Oregon and our Nation will surely miss his commanding leadership in Washington. We wish him well as he considers his next chapter in life.”
“The Energy and Commerce Committee has a proud tradition of bipartisanship, and during both his time as chairman and ranking member, Greg has lived up to that tradition, said House E&C Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.). “Greg is a serious legislator who always takes the time to listen to members and to his constituents back home in Oregon. I look forward to completing our bipartisan work over the next year and wish Greg nothing but the best in the future. Greg’s voice, ideas and leadership will be missed in the House.”
“I commend Congressman Greg Walden for his many years of service to the American people," said FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly. "He has always served his constituents with integrity and a genuine concern for their well-being, and I have the utmost respect and appreciation for all that he has done. I have especially enjoyed working with Mr. Walden on communications law and policy, where his personal experience and demonstrated expertise on issues facing the communications sector have underpinned his thoughtful legislative approach. We’ve fought together to drive many policy reforms over the years, and I will miss his sage advice and leadership when he leaves office. I extend my heartfelt congratulations on his accomplishments and wish him and his family all the best in the future, wherever that may lead.”
“Congressman Walden has shown a commitment to connectivity and practical, bipartisan solutions to bring the power and promise of broadband to more Americans, including legislation on mapping, stopping illegal robocalls, and increasing broadband infrastructure, especially in rural America," said USTelecom President Jonathan Spalter. "USTelecom members thank him for his service and leadership.”