Rep. Bliley won't seek re-election

Rep. Bliley's official Web site

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Rep. Tom Bliley (R-Va.), one of the most influential members of Congress

on topics ranging from Internet regulation to tobacco taxation, has decided

not to seek re-election.

Bliley has scheduled a news conference for today to announce his decision

not to seek an 11th term. His decision could change the character and agenda

of the House Commerce Committee, which he has chaired since 1995.

Bliley has overseen legislation concerning a host of communications issues,

including Internet taxation, computer encryption and telephone competition.

His committee also handled legislation dealing with restricting the sale

of tobacco.

However, Bliley has been criticized for taking a pro-business and anti-regulatory

stance in dealing with high-tech issues. He has never minced words that

he wanted to tame Congress. He once described it as a "regulatory beast."

His departure will have "an impact, but I don't see a sea change," said

Larry Allen of the Coalition for Government Procurement. "He has been a

significant player in bringing telecommunications into the 21st century

and has nurtured technology developments in Virginia."

If the Republicans maintain control of Congress after the fall elections,

Bliley's likely successor as chairman of the House Commerce Committee is

Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.), a supporter of high-tech issues. If Democrats

win the majority of congressional seats, the chairman likely will be Rep.

John Dingell (D-Mich.).

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