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Boucher Replacing Markey as Telecom Chair

Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., is taking the helm of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, trading gavels with Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who will lead the Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment.

Boucher has a long record of attention to technology issues, especially for rural areas.

Consumer group Public Interest said it was “delighted” by the move.

“Mr. Boucher is a champion of the Internet, one of the co-founders of the Congressional Internet Caucus and dedicated to bringing technological innovation to our economy,” Gigi Sohn, the group’s president and co-founder, said in a statement. “He has also been a leader on intellectual-property issues and a dedicated defender of consumer rights in the digital age. He was one of the winners of Public Knowledge’s IP (3) awards in 2004, the first year the awards were given. We look forward to working with him on the wide variety of challenges in the broadband era.”

Most major news organizations focused on the energy half of the exchange, tagging Markey as more environmentalist than Boucher, who comes from a more conservative area—southwest Virginia—with jobs related to coal production.

Markey held numerous hearings on the DTV transition and consistently peppered the FCC and National Telecommunications and Information Administration officials with requests for updates on the progress of the transition.

Markey is also known for his ever-congenial, yet incisive style of questioning witnesses, and his frequent use of sports references and clever wordplay in his prepared statements.

Harold Feld, attorney at the Media Access Project, praised both lawmakers.

"Throughout his tenure on the Telecom Subcommittee, Ed Markey has time and again proven himself a true friend of real people over special interests and fought vigorously and effectively to make sure that legislation worked for the benefit of all. Sophisticated on complex matters of technology and economics, Markey combined these throughout his tenure with a brilliant sense of political tactics," Feld wrote on his blog.

Feld continued: "I am comforted by the fact that his likely replacement, Rep. Rick Boucher, has also proven himself a strong proponent of open networks, fair use, and using policy to promote vigorous competition. With Waxman as Committee Chair and Boucher as Telecom Subcomittee Chair, I am very hopeful for the future of telecom legislation and FCC oversight for the 111th Congress."