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D.C. Welcomes News of Rosenworcel’s Return to FCC

Former FCC commissioner will be future commissioner, president signals

Washington woke up Wednesday to the not-unexpected news that President Donald Trump intended to nominate Jessica Rosenworcel to fill the empty Democratic seat on the FCC. 

The White House announced the intention— it does not become official until it is sent to the Senate — late Tuesday night. 

“Hallelujah, better late than never,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), ranking member of the Commerce Committee and a big Rosenworcel fan. “The Senate should now move quickly to confirm her and fulfil the promise that was made two years ago.”

“We congratulate Jessica Rosenworcel on the news that she will be renominated as FCC commissioner and look forward to welcoming her back to the commission,” said NCTA–The Internet & Television Association President Michael Powell, himself a former commissioner and chairman. “During her first term as commissioner, Jessica proved to be an outstanding public servant who championed policies that enable American consumers to benefit from the tremendous changes taking place in the communications and technology marketplace. We share Jessica’s passion for promoting policies that close the digital divide and ensure that all Americans, especially students, have access to the many benefits that the internet offers.”

“NAB is delighted to hear that President Trump will renominate Jessica Rosenworcel to the FCC,” said NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith. “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.”

“We congratulate Jessica Rosenworcel and look forward to working closely to promote competition and fairness to all Americans,” said Public Knowledge President Gene Kimmelman. “At a time when we face enormous challenges to prevent the FCC from undermining fundamental consumer protections, we are pleased that Senate Minority Leader Schumer and his colleagues indicate a commitment to fight for competition, protecting consumers’ pocketbooks and consumers’ rights by promoting nominees who will support our cause.”

Currently the FCC is down to only three members, two Republicans and a Democrat, from its full five-member complement. The commission can still render decisions on issues the lone Democrat disagrees with, and has done so on numerous occasions, most notably the decision to roll back Title II. But if Democrat Mignon Clyburn exits — her term is up at the end of June but she could serve until the end of 2018 — the FCC will lack a quorum to vote on items.

Rosenworcel will likely need to be paired with a nominee for the Republican seat; the administration would not want to create a 2-2 tie, which would be the case unless Clyburn exited. In that event, the Clyburn seat could be paired with the new Republican and Rosenworcel paired with Chairman Pai, whose term also ends in June. One name being floated for the third Republican seat is Brendan Carr, currently acting FCC General Counsel and formerly a staffer in Pai’s office.

Pai too congratulated Rosenworcel and said, “She has a distinguished record of public service, including the four-and-a-half years we worked together at this agency.” Commissioner O’Rielly called Rosenworcel a friend: “If the Senate confirms her nomination, she will bring her expertise, insight and thoughtfulness to communications issues.” And fellow Democrat Commissioner Clyburn said that Rosenworcel “has been a tireless advocate for bridging the “homework gap,” a leader in the effort to modernize our 9-1-1 call centers and a champion for freeing up more unlicensed spectrum.”