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Jessica Rosenworcel confirmed for another FCC term

After roughly a year of acting the role, Jessica Rosenworcel is officially the chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

In a vote of 68-31, the US Senate today confirmed Rosenworcel's new FCC term. With that vote and President Biden's designation for Rosenworcel to chair the FCC, she officially assumes the role of chairwoman – a historical first for the agency.

Rosenworcel at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee on November 17, 2021. 
(Image source: Executive Session Confirmation Hearing via commerce.senate.gov)
Rosenworcel at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee on November 17, 2021.
(Image source: Executive Session Confirmation Hearing via commerce.senate.gov)

Following the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a tweet that under her leadership "the FCC will make immense progress to address the digital divide."

In a statement released by the FCC, Rosenworcel acknowledged the significance of her appointment.

"It is a tremendous honor to be confirmed and designated as the first permanent Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission. I would like to thank President Biden for the opportunity," she said.

"People across the country count on the FCC to support the connections they need for work, learning, healthcare, and access to the information we require to make decisions about our lives, our communities, and our country. I look forward to working with the Administration, my colleagues on the Commission and FCC staff, members of Congress, and the public to make the promise of modern communications a reality for everyone, everywhere."

With the end of the year in sight, Rosenworcel's confirmation comes just in time to rescue the FCC from losing its Democratic majority. To the alarm of some in the industry, Biden waited until late October to name his nominees for the FCC's vacant seats, which not only put the agency at risk of entering 2022 without Democratic leadership but has also allowed the FCC to fall behind on crucial efforts, such as broadband mapping.

With the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which designates $65 billion for broadband and relies on FCC data to determine how and where that money is spent, the subject of broadband mapping took center stage at Rosenworcel's confirmation hearing in November.

Following today's Senate vote, various industry groups released statements congratulating Rosenworcel. Louis Peraertz, VP of policy for the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA), called her a "formidable team builder" and said that "Chairwoman Rosenworcel has shown great interest in promoting spectrum allocation policies that benefit a wide range of wireless service providers."

Some also used the occasion to urge the Senate to vote to confirm Biden's other nominee for FCC commissioner, Gigi Sohn. Sohn – along with Biden's pick for NTIA head, Alan Davidson – had their hearings before the Senate Commerce Committee last week.

"We're grateful to the Senate for its bipartisan support of Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. We're immensely pleased that the agency is being led by such a great champion of an open internet and of bringing affordable broadband to everyone in the United States," said Free Press Action in a statement.

"The Senate is also considering the nomination of Gigi Sohn to be the FCC's fifth commissioner. Sohn is a devoted advocate for policies and programs that will truly improve people's lives," the group added. "Free Press Action urges the Senate to vote to approve Sohn as quickly as possible. There's much important work ahead, and Rosenworcel and Sohn are the right leaders to get it done."

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— Nicole Ferraro, site editor, Broadband World News; senior editor, global broadband coverage, Light Reading. Host, "The Divide" on the Light Reading Podcast

A version of this story first appeared on Broadband World News.

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