FCC Nominees Set For Full Senate Vote Despite Fight From Democrats


The return of Jessica Rosenworcel as an FCC Commissioner is nearly complete. So is the official reappointment of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, and the nomination of Brendan Carr to a term expiring at the end of June 2018. What narrowly passed muster with the powerful committee is Carr’s nomination to stay on as Commissioner past that date.

The Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee on Wednesday approved eight bills and 10 nominees, subject to Senate confirmation, and among the nominees getting a thumb’s up were Rosenworcel, Pai, and Carr.

The reappointment of Chairman Pai and, officially, the reappointment as a Commissioner of Rosenworcel came by voice vote approval.

There was a little drama with the fate of Mr. Carr, who received President Trump’s nod for the open Republican Commissioner slot in late June. Carr has been at the Commission for more than five years and was most recently the FCC’s General Counsel.

By voice vote, the Virginia-based Carr was given the nod to fill out the term of former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, which ends on June 30, 2018; Wheeler could have remained as a Commissioner following the transition at the White House on Inauguration Day, and this was the subject of much speculation ahead of his eventual announcement that he’d exit the FCC as President Obama left 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., as a resident for the final time.

However, it took a roll call vote to get the Senate Commerce Committee to approve the nomination of Carr for a five-year term from July 1, 2018. The results were 14-13 in favor of the nomination, sending Carr through on the slimmest of margins to the Senate.

How the Senate votes could prove contentious, given the narrow approval of Carr to stay on the FCC through the end of June 2023. Democrats on the Committee were largely against this, with Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) fearful that a 3-1 Republican-majority FCC could persist following the end of Mignon Clyburn’s term.

In 1997, Gloria Tristani was nominated to fill out a Commissioner’s term on the FCC, and then nominated for a five-year term following the end of the previous term.

Carr was widely expected to get the president’s nod, especially after he gave the green light to Rosenworcel, who exited at the start of the year while Wheeler remained publicly silent about his future.

Carr has received widespread support across Washington. NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith was one of the first to chime in with words of praise for Carr, saying the NAB “strongly endorses” his nomination. “He has a firm grasp on telecom and media law and the right temperament to be a superb Commissioner,” Smith said. “We support his swift confirmation.”

A Senate confirmation date has not yet been announced.