Senate OKs Two New FCC Commissioners

In a voice vote Thursday, the US Senate approved both Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel and Republican Brendan Carr as commissioners, bringing the FCC back to full strength.

Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

August 3, 2017

2 Min Read
Senate OKs Two New FCC Commissioners

After operating with just three commissioners for more than half a year, the Federal Communications Commission will return to full strength with the confirmation of two new commissioners by the US Senate.

In what has become an increasingly rare bipartisan move, the Senate unanimously approved the nominations of Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel and Republican Brendan Carr by a simple voice vote Thursday afternoon. They will fill the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 's two open slots, leaving the Republicans with a 3-2 voting edge.

The two approvals came after some last-minute wrangling between Senate Republicans and Democrats over Carr's nomination. While Republicans wanted to confirm Carr for two terms -- the remainder of his predecessor's term that will expire at the end of next year and a full five-year term after that -- Democrats favored restricting him to just the first term. In the end, the Democrats won this battle.

For Rosenworcel, the vote means that she will return to an agency where she served for four years under former President Barack Obama, only to depart at the end of last year when her first term expired. Although she was strongly supported by many congressional Democrats, including Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, and received unanimous approval from the Senate Commerce Committee, the panel's chairman, John Thune (R-S.D.), never brought her nomination for a second term to the Senate floor. (See FCC on the Verge of 2-2 Split.)

For Carr, the new role represents a promotion at the agency: A former lawyer for the nation’s top telecom companies, he previously served as general counsel to the FCC under current Republican Chairman Ajit Pai.

Representing different ends of the political spectrum, the two new commissioners will likely do battle with each other early and often. Most notably, they will undoubtedly clash over net neutrality and the FCC's Open Internet Order, which Rosenworcel strongly supported under former Chairman Tom Wheeler and Carr is expected to oppose as a close ally of the new chairman. Pai is now seeking to scrap the order and eliminate the Commission's strict Title II regulations for broadband providers. (See Is Pai Filling FCC Role? and Net Neutrality, Here We Go Again.)

President Trump has nominated Pai for another five-year term on the Commission. The Senate Commerce Committee approved that nomination Wednesday but the full Senate did not vote on his renewal Thursday before adjourning for its summer recess.

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Alan Breznick

Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

Alan Breznick is a business editor and research analyst who has tracked the cable, broadband and video markets like an over-bred bloodhound for more than 20 years.

As a senior analyst at Light Reading's research arm, Heavy Reading, for six years, Alan authored numerous reports, columns, white papers and case studies, moderated dozens of webinars, and organized and hosted more than 15 -- count 'em --regional conferences on cable, broadband and IPTV technology topics. And all this while maintaining a summer job as an ostrich wrangler.

Before that, he was the founding editor of Light Reading Cable, transforming a monthly newsletter into a daily website. Prior to joining Light Reading, Alan was a broadband analyst for Kinetic Strategies and a contributing analyst for One Touch Intelligence.

He is based in the Toronto area, though is New York born and bred. Just ask, and he will take you on a power-walking tour of Manhattan, pointing out the tourist hotspots and the places that make up his personal timeline: The bench where he smoked his first pipe; the alley where he won his first fist fight. That kind of thing.

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