House Republicans put pressure on Obama to drop AT&T lawsuit

One hundred House Republicans wrote to President Obama on Tuesday asking his administration to settle its lawsuit blocking the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile. 

The lawmakers said the lawsuit will thwart job creation and economic growth.

The Justice Department sued to block the $39 billion deal last month, arguing it would violate antitrust laws by stifling competition in the wireless market. Seven state attorneys general joined the lawsuit last week.

The GOP lawmakers, led by Rep. Pete Olson (Texas), pointed to AT&Ts commitment to deploy high-speed wireless broadband to 97 percent of the population and to move 5,000 T-Mobile call center jobs back to the United States if the merger is approved.

We believe strongly in ensuring competitive markets and protecting consumers, they wrote. Likewise, we would hope that a settlement agreement that ensures competition, capital infrastructure investment, and jobs would be a key goal for this Administration.

The letter was signed by top Republicans including Reps. Darrell Issa (Calif.), Joe Barton (Texas) and Buck McKeon (Calif.).

Fifteen House Democrats sent a similar letter supporting the merger to President Obama last week.

Advocacy groups that oppose the merger blasted the Republican effort.

“Today’s House Republican letter is yet another indication that AT&T’s congressional support for its takeover of T-Mobile comes at a price, said Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge. “In this case, the total is close to $1,000,000. That’s how much the company gave to members of Congress who signed the letter and who are willing to allow their constituents to be subjected to a wireless market controlled by only two huge companies.

If the deal is approved, AT&T and Verizon would be the largest wireless carriers, leaving Sprint a distant third.