Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR), who is retiring from Congress after 22 years representing Oregon’s 2nd District, spoke with Cristiano Lima and John Hendel at POLITICO about his accomplishments and thoughts on current technology policy debates, from data privacy to Section 230 and more.
You can read the full conversation HERE and read a few highlights below.
What do you see as your biggest accomplishment in the tech and telecom space?
Probably the biggest overall is just continuing the efforts to free up spectrum and get it out into the marketplace for new generation technologies. I think the work we did in the Ray Baum’s Act and the reauthorization of the FCC for the first time in nearly three decades mattered.
Probably to consumers, [it’s] our work to shut off robocalls. We fulfilled the final recommendations of the 911 Commission report and created FirstNet. We got through the digital transition on television, which was no easy feat, but an important one to free up that spectrum for 5G.
What about a biggest regret or missed opportunity you wish you’d converted?
Clearly, there’s some things we’re trying to get over the line in this final package, including preventing 911 fee diversions [and] fixing the issue with the T-Band.
I suppose if there’s a giant one, it’s that you sort of wish the 21 million Americans who don’t have access to high speed broadband had it by now. That’s a pretty big goal to shoot for, but it’s one we have to achieve eventually in America.
One of the big targets this Congress had for the Commerce panels was getting a bipartisan data privacy law into place. That didn’t happen. What do you think went wrong?
That and autonomous vehicles would be two areas of leadership for America that have been left on the cutting room floor for too long. Both of those have fallen victim to the same two words: trial lawyers.
Their power is pretty amazing, and they were able to inject themselves in both of these areas. Their advocates on the Hill on the Democratic side yielded and, frankly, nothing got done.
I would argue on privacy that both Sen. [Roger] Wicker and I were firmly committed to moving forward on privacy legislation at the beginning of the new Congress. But something happened to my gavel on the way, so I was not able to lead on that issue.
Click HERE to read the full conversation.