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Calls Increase for a Woman-Led FCC

Thirty-seven Senate Democrats endorse Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel for top post

The calls for the president to appoint a woman as the next leader of the FCC have increased.

The Women’s Media Center recently urged President Barack Obama to appoint the first female chair of the FCC in the agency’s 80-year history. In a letter signed by founders Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan and Gloria Steinem noting the paucity of top jobs in media currently held by women, they write: “Maybe there is no easy fix to getting women into the top jobs in the telecom and media industries, but the government watchdog can and should be headed by a woman.” They have an online petition here.

Now, more than three dozen Senate Democrats have endorsed FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, for the top post. A commissioner since last May, she was previously an advisor to Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman West Virginia Democrat Sen. Jay Rockefeller. The Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over the commission.

Rosenworcel had also been a legal advisor to former FCC Commissioner and Acting Chairman Michael Copps and worked in private practice. 

In a letter signed by 37 Senate Democrats, they ask Obama to give “serious consideration” to nominating Rosenworcel for the top FCC post. “By choosing a sitting commissioner that has established bipartisan Senate support, you can quickly install a proven leader at this important agency. That fact is particularly critical with the FCC in the middle of several significant rulemakings and other initiatives,” they write.

In the letter — signed by Senate Democrats Rockefeller, Bill Nelson of Florida, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois and Dianne Feinstein of California, among others, they praise Rosenworcel for understanding and respecting the relationship between the FCC and Congress, noting that “Congress defines the limits of the FCC’s authority and jurisdiction.”

The show of support for Rosenworcel is problematic, however, because she is the junior Democrat on the commission. Mignon Clyburn is the more senior Democrat. She is the daughter of powerful South Carolina Democrat Rep. James Clyburn.

We’ve reported other names tossed around to replace the chairman have included NTIA head Larry Strickland and venture capitalist Tom Wheeler.

Current FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced last week he intends to leave the agency in the next few weeks, but would stay through a transition period. He has not publicly discussed his future plans.