US Rep. Greg Walden, W7EQI (R-OR), who championed the Amateur Radio Parity Act (H.R. 1301) as the chair of the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, will chair the US House Energy and Commerce Committee when the 115th Congress convenes in January. Energy and Commerce is considered one of the most powerful congressional panels on Capitol Hill.
Walden defeated the more senior Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) and Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) to succeed Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI). Upton is stepping down from the chairmanship because of term limits. Members of the House GOP Steering Committee elected Walden on December 1 in a closed-door meeting.
Walden gained favor within the Republican Party after serving two terms as head of the National Republican Congressional Committee. The nine-term Oregon lawmaker, had campaigned around the country with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) during the run-up to the November election, and Walden’s selection to head Energy and Commerce over a more senior colleague is being considered recognition of his role in the GOP’s election successes. Ryan spoke in favor of Walden’s candidacy to head Energy and Commerce.
After the vote, Walden praised Shimkus and Barton as “good friends” and “excellent legislators.”
During a Capitol Hill hearing last January, Walden, a cosponsor of H.R. 1301, called the measure “a commonsense bill” and urged his colleagues to support moving the measure forward to the full committee. In July, Walden had recommended the amended version of the bill to his colleagues as “a good balance.” The bill now awaits action in the U.S. Senate.
Walden represents Oregon’s second Congressional district.