Verizon, AT&T, and the other cell-phone service providers have a new top lobbyist.
Meredith Attwell Baker, a former member of the Federal Communications Commission, will be the new CEO of CTIA-The Wireless Association, the group announced Wednesday.
Baker, a Republican, was a target of fierce criticism from consumer groups when she stepped down from the FCC in 2011 to become a lobbyist for Comcast. Although top government officials often join the influence industry, Baker’s move was considered particularly ostentatious because she joined Comcast just four months after voting to approve the cable giant’s purchase of NBC-Universal.
Comcast is now ramping up its lobbying force to get permission to buy Time Warner Cable. Losing Baker will be a blow, but the company still has an impressive roster of lobbyists, including former Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Don Nickles and former Reps. Robert Walker and Ron Klink.
At CTIA, Baker will replace Steve Largent, a Republican, former Oklahoma congressman, and NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver who announced his plan to retire last October.
The explosive growth of the wireless industry over the past decade has helped CTIA become one of the most influential lobbies in Washington. A top priority for the group is to gain access to more airwaves for the industry. Surging demand for wireless data could lead to congestion and slower speeds for smartphones in the coming years.
In a statement, Baker said she will develop a five-year plan for future use of the airwaves, and will put more emphasis on technical and engineering expertise at the group.
“I plan to bring new ideas and new initiatives to the association that will take it from good to great. We will recruit and keep the best and brightest experts in spectrum and wireless communications,” she said.
Baker will have to balance the competing interests of her group’s members. AT&T and Verizon are frequently at odds with the industry’s smaller players, such as Sprint and T-Mobile.
What We're Following See More »
"Even if House Republicans manage to get enough members of their party on board with the latest version of their health care bill, they will face another battle in the Senate: whether the bill complies with the chamber’s arcane ... Byrd rule, which stipulates all provisions in a reconciliation bill must affect federal spending and revenues in a way that is not merely incidental." Democrats should have the advantage in that fight, "unless the Senate pulls another 'nuclear option.'”
The House has passed a one-week spending bill that will avert a government shutdown which was set to begin at midnight. Lawmakers now have an extra week to come to a longer agreement which is expected to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass before President Trump signs it.
President Trump’s portrayal of an effort to funnel more Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico as a "bailout" is complicating negotiations over a continuing resolution on the budget. "House Democrats are now requiring such assistance as a condition for supporting the continuing resolution," a position that the GOP leadership is amenable to. "But Mr. Trump’s apparent skepticism aligns him with conservative House Republicans inclined to view its request as a bailout, leaving the deal a narrow path to passage in Congress."
Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.