By Sara Jerome - 09/29/10 10:16 PM EDT
House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman's (Calif.) endorsement of reclassification could represent a dramatic change in the net-neutrality debate, observers said on Wednesday.
A committee effort to introduce a bill this week stalled as Republicans said they would not support it. Waxman subsequently threw his weight behind Title II reclassification of broadband services if the committee proves unable to make progress on bipartisan legislation.
The endorsement is dramatic because observers on all sides of the equation have questioned whether FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski would be bold enough to move on his own proposal.
He proposed Title II reclassification five months ago but failed to move ahead as missives poured into the FCC this summer from members who oppose the plan.
But an endorsement from a key Democratic leader could be a game-changer, particularly if his Senate counterpart takes a similar stance, according to several observers.
"I think [Waxman's endorsement] gives [Genachowski] a fair amount of political cover," said Paul Glenchur, an analyst with Potomac Research Group.
"You still have a majority of members who aren't backing reclassification, but if he has the support of the leadership on the House and Senate Commerce Committees, it gives him some air cover if he wants to move ahead."