Schatz will be top Dem on Senate tech subcommittee

Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzMinimum wage setback revives progressive calls to nix Senate filibuster Little known Senate referee to play major role on Biden relief plan Bipartisan group of lawmakers proposes bill to lift rule putting major financial burden on USPS MORE is the new top Democrat on the Senate Commerce subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet.

The Hawaii senator assumes the mantle on the subcommittee after former Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) was defeated in his reelection race this year.


The selection comes at a critical time for the committee, and could be a powerful perch for Schatz to have his say.

On Wednesday, the panel is scheduled to hold a hearing on possible net neutrality legislation, a year after a federal court tossed out old rules from the Federal Communications Commission. Fighting over the bill has the potential to create deep partisan divides on Capitol Hill.

The committee is also planning an overhaul of the nation’s foundational communications law, which is expected to take multiple years and could drastically shape up the way people watch TV, make phone calls and listen to the radio.

“Innovation and technology are some of the biggest drivers of our economy and can help solve some of today’s toughest challenges,” Schatz said in a statement.

“In my new role, one of my top priorities will be increasing access to broadband across the country and throughout Hawaii,” he added. “Open and fast Internet access is critical for residents and businesses across the islands and will create high quality jobs and help Hawai‘i diversify its economy.”   

Schatz has not been especially vocal on technology policy issues, though he has urged the Commerce Committee to seriously examine the rise of connected devices such as automobiles and kitchen appliances, called the “Internet of Things.” 

Upcated at 4:30 p.m.