Republicans Push FCC on Merger Vote


On the same day that the FCC's general counsel cleared FCC Republican Commissioner Robert McDowell to vote on the AT&T/BellSouth Merger, a group of 14 Republican Senators heading out for the holidays--or for good--paused long enough to urge the commission to vote on the merger at its Dec. 20 meeting.

Pointing to the Justice Department's conclusion two months ago that the merger raised no antitrust flags, and that it has already been approved by "18 state public service commissions and three foreign countries...Further delay," they argued in a letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, "will only harm consumers as well as employees and shareholders of both companies."

They were preaching to the choir. Martin has been trying to get the merger voted for months, but with McDowell recused was at an impasse with Democratic commissioners seeking access and competition conditions on the merger.

Martin's mailbox has been jammed with letters on the issue of the merger and McDowell's vote. Cisco Systems, for example, wrote Martin Friday to urge the merger vote, saying the delay was having an adverse impact on the telecommunication equipment industry, of which Cisco is a leading supplier.

Signatories to the letter were Senators Jim DeMint, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Sam Brownback, Pat Roberts, Richard Burr, Lindsey Graham, Trent Lott, David Vitter, John Ensign, John Sununu, Mel Martinez, and Jeff Sessions.