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High-speed data bill could be DOA

Chances are growing slimmer that a bill that would deregulate the four remaining Baby Bells so they can offer long-distance high-speed data services will even get to the House floor for a vote.

The House Judiciary Committee this week begins its oversight on the bill, sponsored by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.) and that committee's ranking Democrat John Dingell (Mich.). Members of the Judiciary Committee are even less supportive of the Tauzin-Dingell measure than the Energy and Commerce committee, and support among members in the sponsoring committee is not overwhelming. House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) Tuesday said his committee will vote next Wednesday on both Tauzin and Dingell's bill as well as a pair of related, but opposing, bills offered by Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Chris Cannon (R-Utah), both members of Sensenbrenner's committee.

No matter what the Judiciary Committee does to the Tauzin-Dingell bill, it will still be eligible for a House vote, but amendments that change the core goals of the bill could derail it. Sensenbrenner still has not staked out a position on the issue. "I am listening and learning," he said opening a Tuesday afternoon hearing on the so-called Tauzin-Dingell bill. "I have not made up my mind. I am open to proposals from all sides."
- Paige Albiniak