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Shimkus Eyes Run For House E&C Chair

Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), a member of the House Communications Subcommittee, says he is not actually campaigning for the chairmanship of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, but is definitely interested in the post.

He talked about that and many other issues in an interview for C-SPAN's Communicators series.

He took issue with a Senate hold on his Doctom bill, which would provide a framework for review of the handoff of U.S. authority over domain naming conventions to a multinational, multistakeholder model.

When current Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton gives up the gavel next year, Shimkus said he has the experience to take over the big chair. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chair of the House Communications Subcommittee, is considered a top candidate for the chairmanship as well.

Shimkus said he had not talked to anyone about the chairmanship, but suggested with all that is on Congress' plate at the moment, this was not the right time anyway. "We have enough issues in the Republican conference," he said--most notably was the surprise announcement Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) that he would not run for House speaker.

But assuming Shimkus did become chairman, he said it would be a "blast" if the FCC would team up with the committee on "rewriting the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

The bipartisan Dotcom Act, which Shimkus motormanned, passed in the House, but got caught up in the Senate.

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep.  
Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) have asked the General Accounting Office asking for advice on whether the handoff would be an unconstitutional transfer of government property (Article IV, Section 3) and don't want any action on the bill in the interim. (

Cruz and company say the fact that the transfer includes management of the root zone file, which was developed at DOD with taxpayer money and that is designated a "national IT asset." The Constitution gives Congress the sole authority to transfer government property, they says, so transferring it without government authority is likely  unconstitutional.

Asked about that argument, Shimkus said he did not agree with that analysis. "We're not giving up that root address," he said. "I don't agree with their analysis of the ownership rights of the government because we are keeping what we have."

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.