Elections Matter 2022

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

Friday, November 18, 2022

Weekly Digest

Elections Matter 2022

 You’re reading the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society’s Weekly Digest, a recap of the biggest (or most overlooked) broadband stories of the week. The digest is delivered via e-mail each Friday.

Round-Up for the Week of November 14-18, 2022

Kevin Taglang

As the dust settles on the 2022 midterm elections, we take a look at how members of the House and Senate Commerce Committees fared and who we can expect back when the 118th Congress convenes in January 2023.

House Commerce Committee

First, we look at the members of the House Commerce Committee's Communications and Technology Subcommittee which has jurisdiction over electronic communications, both interstate and foreign, including voice, video, audio, broadband, and data, whether transmitted by wire or wirelessly, and whether transmitted by telecommunications, commercial or private mobile service, broadcast, cable, satellite, microwave, or other modes; technology generally; spectrum and federal and commercial spectrum management; emergency and public safety communications; cybersecurity; internet and interactive computer service liability protection; communications privacy and data security; the Federal Communications Commission; the National Telecommunications and Information Administration; and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in the Department of Homeland Security.

Even before Election Day, we knew the subcommittee would be seeing some turnover. Of the 17 Democratic members of the subcommittee, six are not returning to the House in 2023. Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-PA) is retiring as are Representatives Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Kathleen Rice (D-NY), and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC). Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) will represent his state in the U.S. Senate for the next six years. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) lost his primary election earlier this year. Representative Tom O'Halleran (D-AZ) was the only member of the subcommittee to lose his seat in the general election.

Democratic members of the subcommittee reelected in 2022 are Representatives Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Marc Veasey (D-TX), Donald McEachin (D-VA)*, Darren Soto (D-FL), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Robin Kelly (D-IL), Angie Craig (D-MN), and Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX).

Of the 13 Republican members of the subcommittee, just three are not returning. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) is retiring. In his bid to be the junior senator from Missouri, Rep. 

Billy Long (R-MO) lost in the primary. Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) will represent Oklahoma in the U.S. Senate in 2023.

Reelected Republicans are Representatives Bob Latta (R-OH), Steve Scalise (R-LA), Brett Guthrie (R-KY), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Richard Hudson (R-NC), Tim Walberg (R-MI), Earl "Buddy" Carter (R-GA), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), and John Curtis (R-UT).

As we go to press, it is still way too early to speculate on the makeup of the subcommittee in the 118th Congress. Republicans will lead the panel and have more members. Rep. Bob Latta is likely to be the chairman. Rep. Yvette Clarke could be the ranking member. As chairman, Rep. Latta would likely work closely with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers who will likely chair the full House Commerce Committee. Latta, McMorris Rodgers, and their Republican colleagues on the Communications and Technology Subcommittee introduced the American Broadband Act in May 2021. The bill would limit state and local regulatory authority and prevent a state or locality from providing broadband services in areas with more than one other commercial provider. The bill would exempt telecommunications infrastructure projects from environmental and historic preservation reviews.

Senate Commerce Committee

The Senate Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over communications, including: wired and wireless telephony; the internet; commercial and noncommercial television; cable; satellite broadcast; satellite communications; wireline and wireless broadband; radio; spectrum and consumer electronic equipment associated with such services, and public safety communications. The committee also is responsible for oversight of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) at the Department of Commerce, which is the federal agency primarily responsible for advising the President on telecommunications policy and managing spectrum use by the executive branch.

In this Congress' 50-50 split, Democrats and Republicans both have 14 seats on the Commerce Committee. Three Democrats on the panel were reelected by their states this year: Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL). A fourth, Raphael Warnock (D-GA), is in a runoff election that will take place on December 6. Also returning are Chairwoman Maria Cantwell (D-WA) as well as Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ed Markey (D-MA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), and John Hickenlooper (D-CO).

On the Republican side, Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) is retiring. Senators John Thune (R-SD), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Todd Young (R-IN), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Ron Johnson (R-WI) all won reelection. Committee Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-MS) is returning to Congress next year but it is uncertain if he will return to the Commerce Committee. He may become the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services. If that happens, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) may rise to minority leader. We will know more about that in January. Also returning to the Senate are Sens. Deb Fisher (R-NE), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV),

Rick Scott (R-FL), and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY).

The Georgia runoff election will not determine the leadership of the committee; Sen. Cantwell will retain the chair's gavel. But the December 6 runoff will decide if Democrats have a majority of the seats on the committee. This past summer, Chairwoman Cantwell introduced the Grant to Rapidly Invest and Deploy Broadband, or GRID Broadband Act, a proposal to spur investment in a nationwide middle-mile backbone along the nation’s existing electricity grid. Co-sponsored by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), the bill's goal is to help provide affordable high-speed internet options to the 120 million American households that lack connectivity and enhance the resiliency, diversity, and security of America’s electrical grid.

The 2023 Agenda

We will check back in on the House and Senate committees next year when we have a clearer sense of leadership and the makeup of the panels. With a divided government and the 2024 presidential election already underway, it is unclear what the legislative agenda will be. In the House, we expect a great deal of oversight of agencies like the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

The Senate's agenda for 2023 could well be impacted by what is accomplished in this year's lame-duck session. Senators have limited time to pass a fiscal 2023 omnibus spending package, consider tax measures, pass a defense authorization bill, and raise the debt limit ceiling, as well as consider many outstanding nominations—including Gigi Sohn for commissioner at the FCC. 

As always, tune into Headlines to stay abreast of the latest update. 

Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-VA) died on November 28, 2022.

Quick Bits

Weekend Reads (resist tl;dr)

                  See also: NDIA Adds Community Perspectives on FCC Digital Discrimination Process (NDIA)

ICYMI from Benton

Upcoming Events

Nov 28––Broadband Equity 101 Webinar (AARP California)

Nov 28––Informed: Conversations on Democracy in the Digital Age (John S. and James L. Knight Foundation)

Nov 30––Technical Assistance Workshop and Tutorial for Filers of Bulk Fixed Availability Challenge Data (FCC)

Dec 2—Task Force for Reviewing the Connectivity and Technology Needs of Precision Agriculture in the United States (FCC)

Dec 6—Fireside Chat With Federal Communications Commission and Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Dec 7—How Does the Data Divide Impact Global Policy Challenges? (Center for Data Innovation)

The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all people in the U.S. have access to competitive, High-Performance Broadband regardless of where they live or who they are. We believe communication policy - rooted in the values of access, equity, and diversity - has the power to deliver new opportunities and strengthen communities.

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Kevin Taglang

Kevin Taglang
Executive Editor, Communications-related Headlines
Benton Institute
for Broadband & Society
1041 Ridge Rd, Unit 214
Wilmette, IL 60091
headlines AT benton DOT org

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