A House Judiciary subcommittee could be the first congressional panel to examine AT&T's proposed merger with T-Mobile USA.
The House Judiciary Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet Subcommittee is expected to hold a hearing by June on AT&T's proposed acquisition of its smaller rival T-Mobile, the panel's chairman, Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., told Tech Daily Dose Tuesday. The subcommittee is still trying to nail down a specific date for the hearing, he said.
When the merger was announced last month, House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said his committee would examine the impact the hearing would have on the U.S. economy and the future of wireless communications.
Several other congressional committees also have said they will examine the merger. House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., said last week that he doesn't expect his panel will hold a hearing until later this year.
Senate Commerce Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., could not say Tuesday when his panel would hold a hearing on the merger. However, he noted that of the three government entities that would be examining the deal, which include the Justice Department, Federal Communications Commission and Congress, Justice will be the toughest hurdle to clear, saying the agency's antitrust regulators "don't like bigness." While Congress can hold hearings on the merger, Justice and the FCC will decide whether to approve the deal.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said his panel would hold a hearing but he did not know when it would take place. "Right now, it's more critical we keep the government running," Leahy said, referring to ongoing negotiations on legislation to fund the government for the rest of fiscal year 2011.
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