March 11, 2019
Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) and former Congressman Jack Fields (R-TX) worked together to pass the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which was the first major overhaul of telecommunications law in almost 62 years. This discussion highlighted their bipartisan work and contrasted current issues facing Congress. Nancy Scola, POLITICO, moderated the discussion.
This event was co-sponsored by the Brademas Center of New York University (NYU) and the Archer Center of Univerity of Texas (UT) as part of the Young Leaders Network series.
Jack Fields represented the 8th Congressional District of Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1980 to 1996. Jack served on the Committee on Energy and Commerce from 1982 to 1996. In 1994, when Republicans took control of the House of Representatives, Jack became the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and Finance. At that time, the Subcommittee had jurisdiction over interstate and international telecommunications, the Federal Communications Commission, and the telephone, cellular, cable, and broadcast industries. The Subcommittee also had jurisdiction over the Securities and Exchange Commission, the mutual fund industry and the activities of investment bankers, stockbrokers, investment advisors, and stock exchanges.
As Subcommittee Chairman, Jack led the effort in the House to enact the first comprehensive reform of the Communications Act of 1934, which resulted in the Telecommunications Act of 1996. This landmark piece of legislation was designed to promote competition in all telecommunications-related industries and create an environment in which new telecommunications technologies could flourish. It was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in February 1996.
During his tenure as Subcommittee Chairman, Jack spearheaded passage of the National Securities Markets Improvements Act of 1996, which protects investors while also promoting greater efficiency and capital formation in the financial markets. In September of 1996, Chairman Fields brought the National Securities Markets Improvement Act to the Floor of the House of Representatives. This bill represented the first major overhaul of securities law in 60 years, amending both the 1933 and 1934 Securities Acts and the 1940 Investment Company Act. As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and Finance, Jack exhibited great leadership and worked with his colleagues on both sides of the aisle to modernize the relationship between federal and state securities regulators.
He also played a critical leadership role in the enactment of the Securities Litigation Reform Act, which reformed the Federal civil justice system relating to private securities litigation. Despite opposition from the White House, Jack successfully led the bi-partisan effort to override President Clinton’s veto. This was one of only two times that Congress successfully overrode a Clinton veto during his eight years in office.
Jack was deeply involved in national maritime, fisheries, energy, and environmental policy while serving as the Ranking Minority Member on the Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries. He served on the Committee from 1981 until 1995. He was actively involved in legislation related to oil spill liability legislation, passed after the grounding of the EXXON VALDEZ in Alaska; safety of the cruise ship industry; endangered species and wetlands; fisheries and wildlife refuges; promotion of American ports and merchant marine; shipbuilding; and, the Coast Guard.
Jack has built and maintained a wide network of personal friendships and professional relationships among government officials of both parties. Jack earned his Bachelor of Arts from Baylor University in Waco, Texas in 1974, and his Juris Doctorate from Baylor Law School in 1977. For nine years, Jack served as a trustee of Baylor University. Jack now sits on the Mutual Fund Board of Directors of Invesco, the eighth largest mutual fund company in the United States. In addition, Jack chairs the Board of the Discovery Channel’s Global Learning Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing educational resources to people in need around the world through the use of technology, particularly focused on Africa. In May 2018, Jack joined the Board of Directors for Baylor College of Medicine.
Senator Edward J. Markey, a consumer champion and national leader on energy, environmental protection and telecommunications policy, has a prolific legislative record on major issues across the policy spectrum and a deep commitment to improving the lives of the people of Massachusetts and our country. Whether the issue is climate change, clean energy, safeguarding privacy, nuclear non-proliferation, investor protection or preserving an open Internet that spurs competition and consumer choice, Senator Markey stands up for the priorities and values of Massachusetts.
Nancy Scola is a senior technology reporter for POLITICO Pro.
For more than a decade, Scola has covered the intersections of technology, politics, and public policy for a wide variety of outlets. She has served as a tech policy reporter for the Washington Post, a contributing writer at Next City, and a tech and politics correspondent for the Atlantic. As a freelance writer, she has contributed to the Atlantic, Washingtonian, Reuters, and many other publications.
Scola grew up in northern New Jersey and is a graduate of both the George Washington University and Boston University, with degrees in anthropology from each. She lives in Capitol Hill.