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Senate Approves Rosenworcel’s Reappointment

Fifth seat remains open as Sohn nomination awaits action

Jessica Rosenworcel, now acting chairwoman of the FCC, is shown at a Senate committee hearing in 2018.
Jessica Rosenworcel, now chairwoman of the FCC, is shown at a Senate committee hearing in 2018. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The first woman to lead the Federal Communications Commission as its chair is Jessica Rosenworcel. She has been reconfirmed to the FCC by the U.S. Senate.

CNBC reports the vote was 68 to 31.

Her term was set to expire shortly; and because the commission is already down one member, the prospect that Rosenworcel would not be reconfirmed raised the possibility of a commission with a Republican majority despite a Democratic administration holding the White House.

The nomination of Gigi Sohn for the remaining seat is having a rougher go, and until she or another candidate is confirmed, the commission will consist of two Democrats and two Republicans, which most observers believe means the FCC must limit itself to relatively uncontroversial actions for now.

The National Association of Broadcasters congratulated Rosenworcel and called her appointment historic.

“She is a dedicated public servant who has demonstrated effective leadership and expertise on telecommunications issues during her tenure at the FCC. We look forward to continuing to work with her and her fellow commissioners on ensuring a vibrant future for free and local broadcasting.”

Commissioner Brendan Carr, a Republican, offered congratulations and said, “Under her leadership, the FCC has taken significant steps towards eliminating the digital divide, increasing support for telehealth services and enhancing the security of America’s communications networks.”

NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association said Rosenworcel “has demonstrated sound leadership, a keen command of critical communications issues and a firm commitment to preserving and expanding the nation’s essential communications capabilities,” in the words of NATE President/CEO Todd Schlekeway. “NATE has been pleased with Chairwoman Rosenworcel’s engagement with industry leaders and her continued support of NATE’s legislative and regulatory priorities, updating broadband maps, closing the digital divide and securing the nation’s leadership in 5G deployment.”

In a statement, Rosenworcel said: “People across the country count on the FCC to support the connections they need for work, learning, healthcare and access to the information we require to make decisions about our lives, our communities, and our country.  I look forward to working with the administration, my colleagues on the commission and FCC staff, members of Congress, and the public to make the promise of modern communications a reality for everyone, everywhere.”

The commission has not had a female chair until now. Mignon Clyburn was acting chairwoman for about six months in 2013.