As AT&T Waits, Tug Of War Continues For FCC Commissioner's Vote
All that awaits the FCC's final approval of BellSouth's merger with AT&T is a presumably pro-merger tie-breaking vote from abstaining FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell. McDowell has been holding back his vote because he feels a potential conflict with his previous work before he joined the FCC with a group that opposed the merger.
As a followup to FCC Chair Kevin Martin's Friday announcement mentioning to Congress that he would ask the FCC's Office of General Counsel to give McDowell the right to vote on the matter, McDowell said he would ask the Virginia State Bar if that's OK.
As the National Journal's David Hatch notes, some in Congress feel this whole matter is being fast-tracked to get the merger done before the presumably less merger-friendly Democrats take over Congress on January 3.
“I believe that forcing a commissioner to participate in a proceeding in which he or she would otherwise be recused is an extraordinary notion for an independent, impartial regulatory agency,” Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., incoming chairman of the House Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee, said in a statement.
“If the FCC general counsel takes action to compel Commissioner McDowell's participation, I strongly urge Commissioner McDowell to announce his intention to vote to abstain as a matter of principle,” Markey added.
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