House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) will unofficially allow the House
Judiciary Committee to have some authority over a bill sponsored by House Energy
and Commerce Committee chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.) and that committee's top
Democrat, John Dingell (D-Mich.), slowing the bill's progress through the
Tauzin's and Dingell's bill would allow incumbent phone companies to build
unregulated high-speed networks. The long-distance phone companies, particularly
AT&T Corp., and some competitive local-exchange carriers vigorously oppose
Besides the delay caused by referral, the bill also could be slowed by
consideration of competing legislation introduced by Reps. John Conyers
(D-Mich.) and Chris Cannon (R-Utah).
That bill would water down Tauzin-Dingell by requiring incumbent phone
companies to have no more than 85 percent of the local phone market before being
able to offer high-speed data long distances. The Judiciary Committee is
scheduled to review that bill Tuesday.
Hastert plans to give the Judiciary Committee 30 days to go over the limited
parts of Tauzin's and Dingell's bill that relate to antitrust issues.
'Obviously, this referral will slow down the bill, but it won't prevent it
from going to the House floor,' Tauzin spokesman Ken Johnson