Waxman: Communications Subcommittee Success Depends on Bipartisanship

Points to Pass/Fail Rate of Bills in Last Congress under Committee's Jurisdiction
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House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking Democrat Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) sent committee chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) a memo Tuesday as the committee began its work in the new Congress suggesting that bills fare better when they are bipartisan.

On the Communications Subcommittee, for example, the three bills in the committee's jurisdiction that were either reported out of the committee or that went directly to the floor without the support of the Democratic majority did not pass. Those were the FCC Process Reform Act, a resolution disapproving the FCC's net neutrality rules, and one that would have defunded National Public Radio.

By contrast, of the four bills in their jurisdiction that were supported by Dems -- the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011 (which included incentive auctions), a resolution backing a multistakeholder model of Internet governance, a bill to return unused broadband stimulus funds to the Treasury and H.R. 3310, the FCC Consolidated Reporting Act of 2011 -- two passed. Those were the tax relief bill and the multistakeholder resolution.

That is a 50% success rate, Waxman pointed out.

"The overriding lesson of last Congress is that the Committee succeeded legislatively when its measures had broad bipartisan support and failed when they did not," he said.