Two influential GOP senators wrote to federal regulators on Wednesday arguing that AT&T's proposed merger with T-Mobile "may prove to be a positive step on the path to world-class wireless broadband throughout the United States."
Senate Antitrust Ranking Member Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, appear to be taking on Senate Antitrust Chairman Herb Kohl, D-Wis., who called on authorities to block the merger last month.
Lee has made similar commentsbefore.
The GOP senators urged regulators to thoroughly review the transaction, while suggesting it is not the role of Congress to say whether the merger should be blocked or approved.
"Unlike some of our colleagues, who have specifically called for your agencies to block the merger...we urge you to evaluate all evidence in deciding whether proposed transaction" is legal, the GOP senators said.
The senators say benefits of the merger could include "enhanced service quality, expanded network capacity, and increased data speeds--particularly given the companies' roughly compatible networks, complementary spectrum holdings, and well-matched cell site grids."
Critics are concerned that prices will rise and competition will take a hit if the $39 billion deal is allowed to move forward. Reviews at the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department are expected to extend into next year.
Congress plays a key role in leading the public debate around a merger but ultimately has no power to decide whether it is approved.
So far, around 80 Democratic House members and a handful of Republicans have written to regulators extolling the benefits of the merger, with a focus on the expansion of rural broadband.
Meanwhile, senior House Democrats in influential committee positions have voiced concerns about the deal.