Markey Announces Candidacy for Senate; Was Leading House Voice on Telecom

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By Dean Scott  

Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), a long-time leader on energy and telecommunications policy in the House, announced that he will run in the 2013 special election to fill the Massachusetts Senate seat that would be vacated if, as expected, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) is confirmed by the Senate as the next secretary of state.

Markey, a senior Democrat who has served in the House since 1976, announced his candidacy Dec. 27. The Democrat worked in tandem with Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) on ill-fated climate change legislation in 2009 to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels, to set a renewable electricity standard for states, and to mandate improved energy efficiency.

While Markey has focused his energies recently on energy policy, he is regarded as a leading Democratic voice on all matters relating to telecommunications and technology.

He is currently co-chair of the Congressional Privacy Caucus and a member of the House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee, where from 1987 to 2008 he served as either chairman or the ranking member.

In his tenure, he has authored many laws governing the rapidly changing communications landscape, including, most recently, the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (Pub. L. No. 111-260) and the provision in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Pub. L. No. 111-5) that required the Federal Communications Commission to develop the first National Broadband Plan.

Among House Democrats, Markey is arguably the most outspoken supporter of “net neutrality,” the concept that holds that companies providing internet service should treat all sources of data equally. In 2009, he introduced the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009 (H.R. 3458), a bill that would have amended the Communications Act to include a provision prohibiting internet service providers from discriminating against users, prioritizing the traffic of any particular content provider, or imposing certain charges on any internet content, service, or application provider.

He also still continues to speak out against consolidation in the telecommunications, broadcasting, cable, wireless, and high-tech industries.

He was the lead proponent of the requirement in the 1996 Telecommunications Act that the Bell Operating companies open their networks to competitors and just last year lead the charge against AT&T Inc.'s proposed $39 billion takeover of T-Mobile USA LLC, which ultimately collapsed.

Markey is widely expected to face former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R), who in 2010 won the seat vacated by the death of former Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.). Brown was defeated in November by Democrat Elizabeth Warren and has not announced whether he will run for the seat opened up by Kerry's departure, but he also has not sought to knock down speculation of his candidacy.

The special election awarding new vacant seat is expected to held in mid-2013.