Broadband legislation (H.R. 1542) opposed by AT&T Corp. is expected to
come up for a House vote in September under an agreement reached between Rep.
Billy Tauzin (R-La.) and House Republican leaders.
'We have been given the green light by the House leadership to take our bill
the floor sometime after the August recess,' Tauzin spokesman Ken Johnson said
Along with Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), Tauzin is the chief sponsor of a bill
that would deregulate the high-speed-data services of the Baby Bell phone
companies. AT&T and other Bell competitors complained that the bill would
allow the Bells to extend their monopoly into the Internet market.
Johnson's comments came after House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) told
reporters Tuesday that the Tauzin-Dingell bill would reach the House floor in
September. Because the Judiciary Committee opposed the Tauzin-Dingell bill, the
House debate is expected to be contentious.
'The details have to be worked out by the Rules Committee, but we are
confident that Tauzin-Dingell will remain essentially intact as approved by the
House Energy and Commerce Committee,' Johnson said.
A big obstacle for the bill is the Senate, where Commerce Committee chairman
Ernest (Fritz) Hollings (D-S.C.) has mocked the idea that the Bells need
deregulation to flourish in the broadband market.
Johnson said the momentum in the Senate would change once the House passed
the bill and demonstrated its seriousness about spurring broadband
'Clearly, we have the votes to pass the bill out of the House, and when we
do, it will change the dynamics in the Senate,' Johnson said. 'You can't
negotiate with nothing. When this bill sails out of the House, the members of
the Senate will sit up and take notice.'