Democrat shift in Congress portends policy changes

As the political tide shifted to the Democrat Party last week, a host of new Congressional leaders and policy viewpoints affecting electronic communications are emerging.

The chairmanships of the key committees in both the House and Senate will change in the New Year. These leaders set the legislative agenda.

On the House side, Rep. John Dingell, (D-Mich.) is likely to become chairman of the Commerce Committee, while Rep. John Conyers, (D-Mich.) is in line for the Judiciary Committee. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) will lead the powerful Ways and Means Committee, the tax-writing group.

Another key player is expected to be Rep. Ed Markey, (D-Mass.), who becomes chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s telecommunications subcommittee.

Democrat Jon Tester defeated broadcast industry supporter Montana Sen. Conrad Burns. Burns, a former broadcaster, was one of the industry’s most reliable Capitol Hill supporters.