The nominations of Jessica Rosenworcel and Ajit Pai have been frozen by a single disgruntled senator. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) wants to see FCC documents concerning its handling of the LightSquared matter. It has been widely reported that he will be getting access via an agreement with the House Energy and Commerce Committee, but Grassley told a Hill news outlet that its not just access to the documents, it’s what he finds out. And if it is not satisfactory, he may keep the hold on the nominees in place.
Grassley has a lot of questions about the matter. In addition to not getting access to the documents he wants, he also has not been afforded an opportunity to have his staff meet with certain FCC staffers.
The FCC has responded that according to Congress’s very own rules, it is to respond to such requests only from the appropriate committee – the two Commerce Committees in its case. Grassley is not a member. However, the aforementioned deal with the House committee will afford him access to documents being gathered as it looks into the matter as well.
Grassley told Hillicon Valley that the hold may go on if his questions for the FCC remain unanswered after seeing the documents.
RBR-TVBR observation: Frankly, we aren’t sure what the difference is between having three commissioners or five commissioners, as long as the party breakdown favors the one which holds the White House. But we really have to wonder about arcane Senate rules that give one person out of 100 the power to bring the widely-supported nominations of Rosenworcel and Pai to a screeching halt.
We are often not very pleased when 40 senators are able to thwart the wishes of 60 under Senate rules. However, there have been occasions when we were glad that they could. While our gut instinct says 51 should beat 49 and if it’s 50-50 the veep gets to decide as it says in the Constitution, we can understand why senators are reluctant to move to a straight up and down vote at all times.
However, we will never understand this one-senator rule. It’s like Grassley and the many others who have used this tactic are able to anoint themselves as conditional monarchs. Hey, this is a democracy! We’ve already gotten far away from the pure town meeting hall one-person one-vote system by necessity, but do we really need to get THIS far away?
We don’t blame Grassley — he’s just using the tools that are available, but seriously – it’s Senator Grassley, not His Exalted Highness Sir Charles Grassley Ruler of All He Surveys. It’s time the Senate got rid of some of these crazy undemocratic ploys.