House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) signaled his support Tuesday for a pending bid by AT&T Inc. to purchase T-Mobile, lining a key political figure up behind the deal.
In a letter sent Monday to Attorney General Eric Holder and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, Smith urged regulators to consider the benefits of the $39 billion deal, including improved phone service, efficient use of the spectrum and the expansion of advanced wireless broadband services to 97 percent of Americans.
Smith also took jabs at congressional opponents of the acquisition, questioning how thoroughly they had reviewed it in a likely reference to Democratic Sens. Herb Kohl of Wisconsin and Al Franken of Minnesota, who both sent letters urging regulators to block the deal last month.
Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) has also came out against the deal.
“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 in the letter. “Unfortunately, they provided you with only one side of the story. I feel compelled to briefly point out the other side.”
The House Judiciary Committee held hearings on the merger in May.
Other lawmakers have also express support for the merger, including Iowa Republican Reps. Tom Latham and Steve King, who recently wrote a letter to regulators backing the deal.