House panel may emancipate FCC nominees


Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has been holding up the nominations of FCC commissioner hopefuls Jessica Rosenworcel and Ajit Pai in a dispute with the FCC over access to documents pertaining to a LightSquared proceeding. Word is that Grassley may get the docs in an end-around involving the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and may relent on the two nominees.

Grassley is exercised about the appearance that the FCC inappropriately greased the wheels to move the LightSquared proposal forward prematurely. As it has turned out, the company’s plans have been torpedoed by harmful interference to GPS services which have not been overcome.

E&C is looking into the matter. It said, “Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-FL) sent letters to the FCC, NTIA, and PNT ExCom Co-Chairs requesting all written and electronic communications from April 2009 to present between any individual associated with LightSquared, Harbinger Capital Partners, SkyTerra Communications, GPS manufacturers, and PNT ExCom regarding the process used to evaluate the proposed spectrum license transfer, testing, and potential interference.”

Grassley commented, “The FCC said it wouldn’t give internal documents about LightSquared to any members of Congress except the chairmen of the two committees that oversee the FCC. Now one of those two committee chairmen is asking for internal documents. It will be hard for the agency to ignore this request. The House committee that’s seeking information from the FCC is fulfilling its oversight responsibilities. As a federal agency, like all government agencies, the FCC should account for its actions. The House request is good news for accountability and transparency. Since the FCC has refused my document request since last April, and it’s too early to tell whether the FCC will comply with the House request, I’m maintaining my hold on the two FCC nominees until I receive access to the documents I requested, whether that’s from the FCC, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, or the Senate Commerce Committee.”

According to Hillicon Valley, Grassley staffers have also been in talks with staffers of Senate Commerce Committee chair Jay Rockefeller (D-WV).