In a press release, the White House said Biden would nominate interim President Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, to take on the role of permanent chairperson and appoint her for another term on the committee. He also plans to appoint former FCC official Gigi Sohn, another Democrat, to serve as the agency’s fifth commissioner. He is also expected to appoint Alan Davidson as assistant secretary for communications and information at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
Rosenworcel, who can immediately assume her new role as she already sits on the committee, will be the agency’s first permanent woman president. It has yet to be confirmed by the Senate for a new term. Sohn would become the first openly LGBTIQ + commissioner, if confirmed.
Many lawmakers and advocacy groups had been impatient with Biden’s failure to appoint officials to the FCC after he appointed Rosenworcel interim chairman shortly after his inauguration. Without a permanent president and a 2-2 stalemate from Republican commissioners to Democrats, the agency could only move forward with bipartisan action, rather than bold agenda items like net neutrality. Democats will hold a 3-2 majority if Rosenworcel and Sohn are confirmed.
A group of 25 senators wrote to Biden last month urging him to install Rosenworcel as permanent president.
“We represent 17 states and a wide range of political and political opinions, but one thing we have in common is the belief that there is no better qualified or more competent person to lead the FCC at this important time. as Acting President Rosenworcel, ”lawmakers wrote. “It is important to note that we believe Interim President Rosenworcel will encounter few obstacles to her confirmation. “
This is all the more important as Rosenworcel still risks having to leave the committee at the end of the year unless the Senate manages to confirm her for a new term of five years before that date since her last term has expired. in 2020. Legislators have a limited time to organize a confirmation procedure. before the end of the year, especially since they remain focused on the passage of Biden’s infrastructure package.
If Rosenworcel leaves the committee before either candidate can be confirmed, Republicans would hold a 2-1 majority on the committee until the Senate advances.
Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Who chairs the Senate Trade Committee, which will review Biden’s latest slate of candidates, said in a statement she looked forward to “quickly reviewing these nominations before the end of the year ”. This would give Democrats a chance to avoid a Republican majority on the committee.
Sohn, who was a top advisor to former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, was one of the favorites to be nominated among progressive groups. Sohn has been a strong supporter of net neutrality measures, having worked with Wheeler as he ushered in the 2015 rules under the Obama administration. These rules were rescinded under the Trump administration.
Sohn was recently a Distinguished Fellow of the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy.
Davidson, the NTIA candidate, recently worked for Mozilla, which has been a major proponent of net neutrality rules. He previously opened Google’s public policy office in Washington, leading government relations in the Americas until 2012.
Rosenworcel has made the closure of the so-called Homework Gap a centerpiece of its platform, emphasizing fairness in the push to connect more households to the internet.
Biden has already installed progressive favorites in the Federal Trade Commission and the White House with his selection of Lina Khan to chair the FTC and Tim Wu to the National Economic Council. Both criticized big tech companies and the ability of the current antitrust framework to properly account for their power.
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