Get Ready For Rosenworcel’s Return To The FCC


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017 marked the final day as a FCC Commissioner for Jessica Rosenworcel … or so we thought.

In a turn of events that might have seemed stunning at any other time in presidential history, President Donald Trump — in a statement that was distributed just before midnight Wednesday (6/14) — indicated that he intends to nominate the Democrat to a whole new five-year term on the Commission. The news was distributed via an email from the office of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

While Trump “intends” to make the move, Rosenworcel’s return after months of discussions and inaction is now all but sealed. All it will take is approval from the U.S. Senate. That will likely be a breeze for a Commissioner that may be remembered for putting a stop to a vote on former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s ill-fated set-top box proposal due to concerns about the Commission’s role in establishing and enforcing such legislation.

Rosenworcel was nominated for a seat on the Commission by President Barack Obama and on May 7, 2012 was confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate. She was sworn into office on May 11, 2012.

In response to reports that President Trump plans to renominate Rosenworcel to the FCC, NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith said his organization “is delighted” to hear of the president’s decision. “Commissioner Rosenworcel is supremely qualified for another FCC term, having demonstrated her public service credentials and full command of telecommunications issues during her Commission tenure. NAB strongly supports her renomination and confirmation.”

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai also issued a statement in response to news that President Trump intends to nominate Rosenworcel to return to the Commission.

Congratulating her, Pai said, “She has a distinguished record of public service, including the four-and-a-half years we worked together at this agency, and I look forward to working with her once again to advance the public interest.”

American Cable Association (ACA) President/CEO Matthew M. Polka also weighed in, praising President Trump for his intent to nominate Rosenworcel.

“Her experience in communications law and regulation and her diligence in working through the issues are truly impressive. ACA looks forward to working with Commissioner Rosenworcel at this critical time in the quest to ensure that all Americans have access to affordable, high-performance broadband. Upon her official nomination, ACA encourages the Senate to confirm her quickly.”

Rosenworcel departed as a result of political wrangling over nominations and appointments. On Jan. 4, President Barack Obama reappointed Rosenworcel to a second term on the Commission. That was ignored, despite support from Sen. John Thune. In a statement, Thune said, “I am open to the idea of confirming her later this year, as long as we preserve the new Republican majority on the commission in the process.”

The Democratic majority wasn’t willing to budge; the GOP majority is now ready to act.

There was also a “Wheeler Waffle,” which saw the soon-to-be-outgoing FCC Chairman refuse to state if he was exiting or staying on as a Commissioner. Thune indicated that his failure to publicly state his plan of action directly correlated to Rosenworcel’s ability to gain a second five-year term.

Rosenworcel brought a decade and a half of public sector and private sector communications law experience to her position at the FCC. Prior to joining the FCC, Rosenworcel served as Senior Communications Counsel for the Senate Commerce Committee under the leadership of Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV.  She previously served in the same role on the Committee under the leadership of Sen. Daniel K. Inouye.

In this position, she was responsible for legislation, hearings, and policy development involving a wide range of communications issues—including spectrum auctions, public safety, broadband deployment and adoption, universal service, video programming, satellite television, local radio, and digital television transition.

Prior to that, Rosenworcel was at the FCC, serving as a legal advisor to then-Commissioner Michael J. Copps. She has also served as Legal Counsel to the Chief of the Wireline Competition Bureau and as an Attorney-Advisor in the Wireline Competition Bureau.

Before joining the FCC, Rosenworcel practiced communications law at Drinker Biddle and Reath.


Once President Trump formally nominates Rosenworcel, it is highly likely that a Republican nominee will also be submitted for Senate approval. As reported by Recode, tongues are wagging across Washington that Trump is likely to give the nod to Brendan Carr. 

Carr has served as the FCC’s General Counsel since January, and from February 2014 until his promotion was legal advisor to Chairman Pai.

Brendan Carr

He joined the FCC in June 2012 as an attorney advisor in the office of the general counsel following a nearly seven-year tenure at Wiley Rein LLP. At Wiley Rein, he served as a communications attorney in the appellate and litigation groups.

While obtaining his Juris Doctor from the Catholic University of America Law School, he held a summer internship at the FCC as a legal intern.

For a full review of RBR+TVBR’s coverage of Jessica Rosenworcel’s tenure at the FCC and her departure in January, visit’s archives. Simply click here for more.