Bliley’s likely exit leaves House panel chair in air

Office shuffle leaves Oxley as possible candidate

WASHINGTON — House Commerce Committee chairman Thomas Bliley (R-Va.) is expected to announce today that he will not run for re-election, tightening the race for the chairmanship of the House Telecommunications Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the broadcasting and cable industries.

Bliley had talked about running for the lower-level post himself since term limits set by the Republican leadership required him to step down from his full committee position.

If the Republicans continue to hold their majority in the House (a proposition many consider doubtful), the Telecommunications Subcommittee may remain under current chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.).

If Tauzin succeeds in his bid to become the full Commerce Committee chairman, however, the subcommittee would likely go to Rep. Michael Oxley (R-Ohio).

Oxley, a conservative Republican, has championed the cause of broadcasters and cablers and enthusiastically supports deregulation.

The final decision on Commerce Committee leadership positions will not be decided until the coming election in November. If Democrats regain the majority in the House, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is expected to reclaim chairmanship of the Telecommunications Subcommittee.

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