Friday, September 11, 2009

U.S. Rep. Markey, Energy & Telecom Policy Giant, Will Not Run for Senate

Chooses to Retain "Leadership Positions in the House" 09/11/09 Somerville, MA  -
Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-MA) stated this afternoon he will not run in the special election for the Massachusetts United States Senate seat made vacant by the death of Senator Edward M. Kennedy on August 25.

In a statement posted late today on his campaign committee site, Markey said:

“I have had the honor to serve the people of the Seventh Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives for 33 years, and am now the eighth most senior Democrat. I believe that my leadership positions and seniority in the House allow me to accomplish more for my Congressional District and for Massachusetts. I have therefore decided not to become a candidate for the Senate."

“I have been humbled by the outpouring of friendship and support that I have received from those who have urged me to enter the Senate race. However, I have concluded that, as the Dean of the Massachusetts and New England House Delegations, as the Chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment, as well as a senior Member of the Natural Resources Committee, I can have the greatest impact on the issues facing the people of our state through my leadership positions in the House."

“There is much important work to get done -- fighting for to improve the quality and affordability of health care for all, advancing an innovation agenda for the high tech and clean tech sectors that will create American jobs and working to protect our precious planet for generations to come."

“I look forward to working with our House Delegation, Senator Kerry, and our next Senator to assure that though our friend, Ted Kennedy, is no longer with us, Massachusetts continues to have a powerful voice on the issues affecting our nation’s future."

The Boston Globe's Frank Phillips, who has broken more Massachusetts political stories than most current working reporters, in a piece posted at 7:36 PM this evening quotes Markey as saying, "'I will have more clout for Massachusetts in the House than as a freshman in the Senate. That was at the heart of my decision.''

Massachusetts Evolution
Now dean of the Massachusetts delegation, Markey was first elected to Congress in a special election in 1976, following the death of then Congressman Tobert 'Torby' McDonald.

Ed Markey won the special election's Democratic primary, then as now tantamount to winning the general election in virtually any Massachusetts congressional district, positioned as a political reformer. As a young state representative form his hometown of Malden, MA, Markey had famously taken on the then Speaker of the Massachusetts House, iron fisted Thomas P. McGee. "Tommy" McGee sought to discipline the young upstart by taking away his staff and office privileges. A photo of Markey working in a basement hallway at the State House was splashed across the Boston media the day following McGee's edict, burnishing Markey's image as a reformer in the immediate post-Watergate era.

One year after Markey's election to Congress, his colleague from the neighboring and legendary Massachusetts 8th district, Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill, became Speaker of the House for 10 years. Prior to O'Neill's election in 1952, the Mass. 8th had been represented by a young Congressman, John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

When Ed Markey was elected to the Massachusetts House in 1971, the best way to get a job "with the phone company" was to have your "state rep." call the president's office of the New England Telephone Company, a practice now illegal under Massachusetts law. By the late 1980s, as Massachusetts still eclipsed Silicon Valley in technological leadership and became the world capital of the mutual fund industry, the requirment for a world class competitive telecommunication infrastructure outstripped the political clout of "the phone company."

The pioneering local competitive provider, Teleport Communications Group, constructed the first non-Bell fiber loops outside Manhattan in Boston's Financial District in 1986. The academic-medical-research nexus which powers the Massachusetts economy to the present day was likewise hungry for high capacity telecom, often unavailable at any cost from the ossified regional Bell operating company (RBOC).
Markey would become the voice in Washington of the Massachusetts high technology sector as it demanded high bandwidth and reasonably priced telecom services delivered by competitors to the RBOC local monopoly.

Telecom Policy Leadership
Had Markey campaigned for and won the open Senate seat, such a move would have arguably had a significant impact on major pieces of legislation. Ed Markey's imprint on, and legislative acumen in organizing support for, climate change and energy legislation, Internet policy 'net neutrality' legislation, broadband stimulus funding policy, and going forward reform of the Universal Service Fund (USF) which provides federal subsidies for schools and libraries, rural communications, and low income citizens is all without peer in the U. S. House.

As we previously reported, Rep. Markey, representing the Massachusetts 7th congressional district comprised of both working class cities like Everett, Malden, Medford, and Waltham, and suburbs along Route 128 ("America's Technology Highway") filled with technology start-ups and stalwarts, had been the long term Chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet until earlier this year. The Subcommittee is part of the powerful full Committee on Energy and Commerce.

He is most well known as being the father of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 which
is credited by both critics and supporters alike with unleashing the spectacular growth of the Internet as a force in the American economy during the period 1997 - 2002.

The Act federally mandated competition within the U.S. telecom industry by forcing he legacy RBOCs to open their networks, by providing 'interconnection' to competitive new entrant start-ups. The 1996 Act also mandated full competition, between cable television operators and telephone companies, for the provision of video services.

Energy and Climate Change Policy Leadership
With the beginning of the current 111th Congress, Markey vacated the chairmanship of the communications Subcommittee, passing the gavel to long time colleague Congressman Rick Boucher (D-VA).

Importantly, Markey simultaneously was appointed Chairman of the new House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment under the full House Commerce Committee, chaired by Waxman A. Waxman (D-CA). At the organization of the 111th Congress, Waxman successfully wrested control of the chairmanship from long serving Chairman John D. Dingell (D-MI), the quintessential Democratic "Old Bull" of the House.

Waxman had determined that Dingell, representing Detroit's suburbs, had stalled auto emission,
fuel efficiency, and related alternative energy legislation for too long. He calculated that with the tacit support of fellow California delegation Member, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, he had the votes to put his determination to the test. Markey, for years a subcommittee chairman under Dingell, stayed neutral in one the toughest leadership fights in years on the D side of the aisle.

Markey's leadership on alternative energy and climate change policy was however rewarded by Pelosi and Waxman with the coveted chairmanships of both the Select Committee and Subcommittee.

The Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy Act of 2009 would not have seen the light of day, irrespective of the leadership rank of its lead sponsors, had Dingell remained as chairman.
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