Pennsylvania senators go to bat for Comcast

The two senators from Comcast’s home state of Pennsylvania are urging regulators to approve the cable giant’s $45 billion merger proposal with Time Warner Cable.

Sens. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyDems hit stock buybacks in tax law fight Dem senator warns Mueller against issuing Russia report near 2018 election Dem praises gay US Olympian who feuded with Pence MORE (D) and Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyTop GOP candidate drops out of Ohio Senate race Newly declassified memos detail extent of improper Obama-era NSA spying Overnight Tech: FCC won't fine Colbert over Trump joke | Trump budget slashes science funding | Net neutrality comment period opens MORE (R) told Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler Thursday that the proposed deal “will produce extensive benefits to the public in terms of jobs and services for low-income households.”

“The public should not have to wait for these benefits,” they wrote in a letter to the FCC. “Accordingly, we urge you to approve the merger as soon as possible.

The two senators added that they have “seen firsthand Comcast's record as an outstanding corporate citizen,” noting its support of nonprofit organizations and its Internet Essentials program, which provides low-cost Internet service to poor families.

The two senators hailing from Comcast’s home state have received a combined $97,000 from the company’s political action committee and executives during their recent campaigns, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Comcast and supporters of its massive merger have said that the deal would improve Web speeds for many Time Warner Cable customers and expand programs such as Internet Essentials, among other benefits. Because the two companies do not currently operate in the same markets, proponents say the deal would not lead to fewer options for people to order TV or Internet service.  

Critics have resoundingly opposed the merger, arguing that the combination of the nation’s top two cable companies would only lead to higher prices and worse service for consumers throughout the country.

The FCC briefly paused its internal “shot clock” for reviewing the deal over secret documents about programming companies’ business deals with the cable firms, but has recently started it back up. A final decision is expected in the first few months of 2015.