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Policy

Barton Gains Energy and Commerce Chair

2/26/2004 9:13 AM Eastern

It's official: Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) is the new chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Barton issued a statement Thursday after his appointment won unanimous consent from the House.

"I am honored to follow in the footsteps of the only other Texan to serve in this post, the honorable Sam Rayburn," Barton said. "This is a big new job, and I am mindful of the fact that everything I am, I owe to the people of the Sixth District of Texas."

Barton’s arrival is a boon for the cable industry in that he has repeatedly voiced opposition to mandatory cable carriage of local TV signals.

Barton, who has not announced an agenda, has said the Telecommunications Act of 1996 needs some updating, claiming that the law has not kept pace with technological advances, such as voice-over-Internet-protocol services.

Barton's rise to the chairmanship during the midpoint of a Congress was unusual. But the job became vacant when Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) decided to quit effective Feb. 16 and to retire from the House at the end of the year.

Tauzin is a likely candidate for a high-paying lobbying job at some point. He has already turned down the presidency of the Motion Picture Association of America -- a post that pays more than $1 million annually.

September