Markey, Dingell Probe Possible McDowell Vote

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The future chairman of the House Commerce Committee and Telecommunications Subcommittee John Dingell (D- Mich.) and Ed Markey (D- Mass.) have asked the FCC's General counsel to provide a laundry list of information on how he will decide whether or not to give FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell the go-ahead to vote on the AT&T/Bell South merger.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin had asked General Counsel Sam Feder for a call on whether he could unrecuse McDowell to break a 2-2 Republican/Democrat deadlock on the merger if it were in the public interest. But Dingell and Markey said that, after reviewing the Martin request, they want to be briefed in detail on the "basis on which you will make this critical decision."

In addition to the answers to numerous questions about the process, the two legislators want some documentation about prior resolutions of potential conflicts of interest, and a list of the lengths of FCC telecom merger reviews since the 1996 passage of the revised Telecommunications Act.

McDowell has not been participating in the review because his previous employer, telecom association COMPTEL, has weighed in on the deal.

AT&T Bell South is in day 229 of the FCC review--Justice has finished its review. That is well past the FCC's self-imposed target of 180 days, but far short of the 400-plus days it took to finish the Adelphia break-up.

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