Cruz blocks attempt to confirm FCC nominees


Tom WheelerAfter approving the continuing resolution and the raising of the debt ceiling, the Senate confirmed several pending nominations. But FCC nominees Tom Wheeler and Michael O’Rielly were not among them.

According to Hillicon Valley, O’Rielly’s nomination was released by the Commerce Committee, making confirmation by the full Senate a possibility. Wheeler was approved by the Committee over the summer.

FTC commissioner nominee Terrell McSweeny, who went through the same confirmation hearing as did O’Rielly, did not clear the Committee.

The Senate was trying to approve Wheeler and O’Rielly by unanimous consent, and it only takes one objecting senator to derail such a move.

Hillicon Valley said that at least three sources named Ted Cruz (R-TX) as the objecting party. During Wheeler’s confirmation hearing, Cruz had said he might take action to block Wheeler’s confirmation if he failed to pledge not to use the FCC to require sponsor disclosure for political advertising.

Cruz did claim responsibility for the hold, and said it would be in place until Wheeler gives him a better answer on the advertising disclosure issue. The two are expected to be in communication soon.

O’Rielly’s fate is entwined with Wheeler’s. The two will likely be easily approved as a Democratic-Republican pair; but by the same token, neither is likely to go through without the other.