Baker picked, Genachowski confirmed


To the surprise of absolutely nobody who has been paying the least bit of attention, President Barack Obama has formally sent the name of Republican Meredith Attwell-Baker to the Senate for confirmation as a new FCC commissioner. Meanwhile, the Senate confirmed the nomination of Democrat Julius Genachowski to assume the FCC Chair, and is also sending back Republican Robert McDowell for a full term. Democrat Mignon Clyburn’s name was also resubmitted to the Senate.

Attwell-Baker did most of the heavy lifting for the NTIA’s digital-to-analog converter box coupon program as acting head of that agency.

Genachowski and McDowell sailed through the Senate Commerce Committee last week after numerous delays, which were widely believed to be attributed to disagreements among Senate Republicans as to who they wanted to serve. Then, after getting out of committee, the nominations were temporarily held up on the Senate floor.

Numerous Washington players had trick trigger fingers on their congratulatory statements. Here is a sampling:

Acting FCC Chair Michael Copps said, “I am so pleased that with today’s nominations we can begin to look forward to a fully-constituted FCC. With all the communications challenges confronting the Commission, I am looking forward to having the benefit of all the talents that five members can bring to our work. These nominees will get us there. I had the opportunity to work with Meredith Baker while she led NTIA and I quickly came to appreciate her intelligence, dedication and collegiality. If confirmed, she will bring a wealth of experience and credibility with her. She is an excellent choice for the job. Now that Mignon Clyburn’s nomination is official, I will say again what a superb selection she is. Her years on the South Carolina Public Service Commission, coupled with experience in the world of media, will be tremendously helpful to her—and to her colleagues—at the FCC. She will be a great asset to the FCC and a pleasure to work with. I wish both Meredith and Mignon well as they navigate the confirmation process.”

Commerce Committee Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchison remarked, “Meredith Baker will be a strong, independent voice on the Federal Communications Commission,” said Senator Hutchison. “Her previous experience in telecommunications policy will serve her well as she works with other commissioners to tackle the FCC’s crucial priorities, such as improving broadband access for unserved communities. I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure that she receives an expeditious and fair nomination hearing and is quickly confirmed. A complete FCC panel is needed to address the many important communications issues that currently face the nation.”

Said NAB’s Dennis Wharton, “NAB applauds President Obama and congratulates Meredith Attwell Baker on today’s announcement. Her commitment to public service while serving at the NTIA, coupled with her understanding and appreciation of local broadcasting, will serve the Commission and the public well. NAB urges swift Senate confirmation and looks forward to working with Ms. Baker in her new role.”

Soon-to-be-colleague (Senate willing) Robert McDowell said, “President Obama has made an excellent choice by nominating my friend Meredith A. Baker to be a commissioner of the FCC. I have had the privilege of working with Meredith for many years in both the private and public sectors and I know first hand of her strong commitment to public service. Her experience, intellect, energy, regulatory philosophy and sense of humor will make her a first-rate commissioner. Additionally, her knowledge of the issues that are likely to come before the FCC in the coming years is second to none. American consumers will be well-served by her service at the Commission. I look forward to working with her.”

Jonathan Adelstein, who may finally get to move on to a new gig at the Department of Agriculture, said, “I welcome President Obama’s nominations of Mignon and Meredith to serve as Commissioners at the FCC. These two outstanding public servants have strong records in government. Both bring a unique and important set of experiences to the Commission’s deliberations. America deserves a Commission that reflects the ideals, aspirations and diversity of America. Today’s nominations have done just that. It is with enormous enthusiasm that I heartily congratulate Mignon and Meredith on their nominations.”

RBR/TVBR observation: So we’ll see Genachowski next week at the FCC July Open Meeting. As for the newcomers, Congress likes to bring the commissioners on line in party-line pairs, and this completes the final set for Obama’s first FCC. Neither candidate is expected to run into any trouble getting confirmed. We’ll keep our eyes in the Commerce Committee schedule to see how soon they get their hearings, and then, as usual, we’ll probably sit and wonder which member of the full body is holding up final action on their nominations.