Six Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have written to federal regulators calling attention to the potential for job gains if AT&T’s merger with T-Mobile is approved.
“In challenging economic times, we need to be especially thoughtful in our approach to private-sector investments and potential job growth as we can ill afford to lose valuable opportunities when they arise,” said Reps. John Shimkus and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, Brett Guthrie of Kentucky, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, and Phil Gingrey of Georgia.
AT&T says the merger would create jobs through new investments in its network and through its pledge to bring 5,000 call-center jobs back from overseas. But opponents say AT&T would lay off workers in redundant positions, ultimately killing jobs with the transaction.
The lawmakers also discouraged Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski and Attorney General Eric Holder -- although the Justice Department has said he is recused from the proceeding -- from adding new industry-wide regulations should the merger be approved. New regulations are seen as a prospective offset to consolidation.
“To the extent that either of your agencies believes that the transaction should be approved subject to certain conditions, such conditions should only impact the parties to the transaction and be narrowly tailored to address any specific harm directly attributable to the transaction,” said the letter, sent on Thursday.
A letter the same day from another House Republican explicitly pushed the Justice Department to settle out of court.
“I, as well as many of my colleages [sic] in Congress, am willing to work together with the Department of Justice, the Federal Communications Commission, AT&T, and T-Mobile USA to help all parties reach a settlement,” Rep. Todd Young, R-Ind., said.
The Justice Department filed suit against AT&T’s $39 billion bid to buy T-Mobile last month on the grounds that it would reduce competition. The trial is set to begin in February. House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, previously asked regulators to provide bipartisan briefings for subcommittee staff. The Justice Department has refused.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the total contributions each letter signer has received during their career from AT&T’s political action committee are as follows: Shimkus ($94,138), Blackburn ($44,000), Scalise ($22,500), and Guthrie ($17,500). Donations from AT&T are not listed for Kinzinger, Gingrey, or Young.