Waxman, Dingell To Share Telecom Oversight

After a contentious battle that saw Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) unseat John Dingell (D-MI) as chairman of the powerful House Energy & Commerce Committee, the two have announced a "partnership" of sorts atop the committee.

According to a joint statement, the pair will team up to oversee issues including telecommunications, climate change and energy, while Dingell will be a lead sponsor of new health care legislation. The committee oversees the FCC and other communications matter. Broadcasters have been concerned that the industry-friendly Dingell had been supplanted by industry critic Waxman.

"It is Congressman Dingell’s intention to play a leadership role on the Committee as Chairman Emeritus and to work closely with Chairman Waxman on all Committee business," the two said.

The move was seen as a way to convey a sense of unity as the Democrats prepare to take over the Congress with wider margins and a president of the same party. Waxman's challenge of the longest-serving House member had come somewhat out of the blue, and was criticized as a potentially divisive power play on the heels of a big victory in the November election.

But the announcement read more like a meeting of the mutual admiration society: "I appreciate the efforts of Chairman Waxman to partner with me as we move into the 111th Congress," said Dingell. "“Henry and I have been able to work together in the past and agreed on most issues, and even in areas where we have disagreed, together we have passed important legislation...The work before this Congress and President Obama is far too important for anything to stand in the way of progress."

“I am delighted that John Dingell and I will work as full partners on the Committee and that he will serve as Chairman Emeritus of the Energy and Commerce Committee,” said Waxman. “His great talent, experience, and political skill will be a tremendous help to me and an asset to the Committee as we move forward on important legislation."

John Eggerton

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.