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White House Sends Rosenworcel Nomination to Senate

Next step will be confirmation hearing in Senate

Former and likely future Democratic FCC commissioner nominee Jessica Rosenworcel has taken one step closer to her return to the commission.

President Donald Trump had signaled earlier in the week his intention to nominate Rosenworcel to a new term, but it has now been officially submitted to the Senate for a nomination hearing in the Senate Commerce Committee and vote in the full body. Her last Senate nomination hearing resulted in unanimous approval on both counts.

Rosenworcel, who had served on the commission between 2012 and the end of 2016, was forced to exit at the end of last year after Congress failed to bring her renomination to a vote despite unanimous approval by the Senate Commerce Committee and support from both Democratic and Republican legislative leaders after Senate Republican leadership would not schedule a vote.

Pres. Trump withdrew Pres. Barack Obama’s renomination of Rosenworcel, which if she had been seated would have left the FCC at a 2–2 political divide once FCC chairman Tom Wheeler exited.

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 Mignon Clyburn exited. One name being floated for the third Republican seat is Brendan Carr, currently the acting FCC general counsel and formerly a staffer in the office of current chairman Ajit Pai.

Rosenworcel’s renomination got caught up in an unrelated political fight between the Republicans and Democrats over nominations in general.

Former Senate minority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had taken to the Senate floor in April 2016 to call for a vote on Rosenworcel’s renomination, in the process saying majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had broken his word to act on Rosenworcel after the Democrats agreed last year to vote out Republican Commissioner Michael O’Rielly. Usually commissioners are paired, Democrat and Republican, before being voted, but Reid said he agreed to vote O’Rielly by himself after getting McConnell’s promise that Rosenworcel would also get a vote. She did not.

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