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July 19, 2016

Hill Telecom Leaders Tout Trump Candidacy During GOP Convention

  Consumer Electronics Daily

Lawmakers leading House and Senate GOP campaign efforts, who also head their chambers' Communications subcommittees, took to Cleveland this week for the Republican National Convention to press for a victory for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump and Republicans in both chambers. Republicans hold the House and Senate and have spent the past year and a half in the majority criticizing the FCC on many grounds, in particular net neutrality.

Convention delegates also adopted and officially released the 2016 GOP party platform Monday, which retained language that one delegate worried would be seen as an endorsement of net neutrality: "The internet's free market needs to be free and open to all ideas and competition without the government or service providers picking winners and losers." The platform retained language along the lines of what was in the original rough draft, suggesting the survival of the Internet was put at stake by the Obama administration and criticizing the net neturality order's Communications Act Title II reclassification of broadband.

"We salute the Congressional Republicans who have legislatively impeded [President Barack Obama's] plans to turn over the Information Freedom Highway to regulators and tyrants," the platform said. It included language similar to what the Institute for Policy Innovation recommended last week: "We will consistently support internet policies that allow people and private enterprise to thrive, without providing new and expanded government powers to tax and regulate so that the internet does not become the vehicle for a dramatic expansion of government power."

"No one expected this kind of presidential year," House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., said of the House dynamics, speaking during a Monday event hosted by The Atlantic. "We're all adjusting." Walden, who also chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee campaign arm for House Republicans, said House Republicans are "in pretty darn good shape" for the 2016 elections and doubted any dramatic down-ballot effects from Trump, with voters able to separate the presidential and House campaigns. He expects a fight over "the traditional sort of 20 seats, where the battleground is" and called an idea of 70 to 80 seats in play "rather preposterous," defying logic and data.

Trump "has every opportunity to win the general election," said Walden, who endorsed the real estate developer and Monday expressed confidence Trump will bring on talented people "to provide the rest of the framework, if you will." Trump has been criticized for not releasing any tech or telecom policy agenda, unlike presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. "You build a team," Walden said of Trump's candidacy generally. "It's not just one person."

The Trans-Pacific Partnership likely faces tough odds in the House and isn't likely to get congressional consideration in the near future, Walden said. "My guess is if you put it up for a vote on the House floor today, it would go down dramatically," said Walden, expecting 10 Democrats or fewer to vote for the deal and unsure of GOP support. He cited the importance of trade to his home state and Intel's presence. The presumptive GOP and Democratic presidential nominees both have criticized the deal, which involves telecom and intellectual property provisions among many others. It's speculated the deal may not receive a congressional vote until next year.

Walden and Senate Communications Subcommittee Chairman Roger Wicker, R-Miss., spoke before the convention Monday. "We are running the strongest, sharpest Senate campaigns in history," Wicker, head of the Senate GOP campaign arm, assured delegates, saying Trump will need a Republican Senate as president. Touting the Senate GOP record, he cited pushback against cyberattacks, one of the few telecom policy references during the convention's opening afternoon speeches.

It's critical "to grow our economy by encouraging innovation instead of stifling it by over-regulation," Walden told delegates, slamming the regulations issued under the Obama administration. "House Republicans are leading the fight against the Obama-Clinton regulatory regime, and we know there's a better solution," said Walden. "Washington needs to be a better listener." Clinton "has made clear she will double down on the worst of the Obama administration policies," Walden said, saying most Americans would find "unimaginable" the influence that "unelected bureaucrats" in Washington hold.


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