House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) sent a letter in support of AT&T's proposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA on Monday to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski and Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderAll eyes on Garland after Bannon contempt vote Arkansas legislature splits Little Rock in move that guarantees GOP seats Oregon legislature on the brink as Democrats push gerrymandered maps MORE
Opponents of the $39 billion deal claim it would eventually leave the wireless market a duopoly in the hands of AT&T and Verizon Wireless, harming consumers and stifling innovation. The Department of Justice and FCC are currently reviewing the deal to determine if it violates federal antitrust laws.
Sens. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenFranken targets senators from both parties in new comedy tour Al Franken on another Senate run: 'I'm keeping my options open' Andrew Cuomo and the death of shame MORE (D-Minn.), members of the Judiciary panel, recently voiced their opposition to the merger by laying out detailed arguments in letters to the FCC and DOJ. Smith was more succinct in his response, relying on the benefits frequently cited by proponents of the merger.
"Recently, you have heard from members of Congress who, based on the limited information provided in congressional hearings, urged you to conclude that this merger should be blocked," Smith wrote before listing a number of AT&T's promised benefits: improved network quality and capacity, using spectrum more efficiently and deploying next-generation wireless broadband to 97 percent of the nation.
"As you continue your review, I urge you to carefully weigh all of the evidence, including the many benefits of this transaction, before coming to a conclusion," he added.
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According to data from OpenSecrets, AT&T has been among the largest contributors to Smith's campaign committee and leadership PAC during his more than 20 years in Congress. The firm and its employees have contributed a total of almost $77,000 to his reelection efforts.
On Friday the four members of the Iowa House delegation minus Rep. David Loebsack (D-Iowa) sent a similar letter asking for an expeditious review of the merger. Reps. Bruce BraleyBruce Lowell BraleyThe Memo: Trump attacks on Harris risk backfiring 2020 caucuses pose biggest challenge yet for Iowa's top pollster OPINION | Tax reform, not Trump-McConnell feuds, will make 2018 a win for GOP MORE (D), Steve King (R), Leonard Boswell (D) and Tom Latham (R) argued Iowa stands to benefit from AT&T's broadband commitment.
"AT&T's commitment will require billions of dollars in private investment capital and could create thousands of jobs which will greatly contribute to our continuing economic recovery," the lawmakers wrote.
"The approval of this merger between AT&T and T-Mobile USA could benefit the citizens of Iowa and the nation, and contribute to our national economic recovery."
OpenSecrets data show AT&T had been among the leading donors to Boswell, Latham and King during both the 2008 and 2010 election cycles.
AT&T is not among Braley's top donors, but he has received a large portion of his support from organized labor, including the Communications Workers of America, which strongly supports the deal. AT&T is the only unionized major wireless carrier.