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Grassley Plans ‘Hold’ on FCC Nominees

Still unhappy about LightSquared approval process

Could the LightSquared GPS controversy complicate Senate approval of two new FCC commissioners?

Reuters reports Sen. Charles Grassley has threatened to block the nominees to the Federal Communications Commission if the agency doesn’t produce documents he wants regarding the broadband start-up firm.

The president has nominated Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, and Ajit Pai, a Republican. Grassley will place a hold on the nominations when they reach the Senate floor, a spokeswoman said.

“I will object to proceeding to the nomination because the FCC continues to stonewall a document request I submitted to the FCC over six months ago,” Reuters quoted the Republican senator saying in a statement submitted to the Senate record.

LightSquared wants to build a high-speed wireless network but raised concerns about interference with global positioning system devices. The Virginia-based company subsequently laid out a plan to address those concerns, and Reuters reported that the company has partnered with GPS firms to develop solutions to some of the problems. The FCC is conducting additional testing.

Grassley and other critics have said the FCC gave LightSquared an inappropriately fast track through licensing. He also wants to explore communications involving the company, the FCC and White House aides.

“The FCC’s refusal to make documents public continues to give the appearance that there’s something to hide,” Reuters quoted Grassley.

A “hold” is an informal practice by which a senator informs the floor leader that he or she does not wish a particular measure to reach the floor for consideration. According to the Senate website, the majority leader need not follow the senator’s wishes in such cases but is on notice that the senator may filibuster any motion to proceed.

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