Rosenworcel confirmed as FCC chair until 2026
The United States Senate has voted by a large majority to confirm Jessica Rosenworcel as chair of the Federal Communications Commission for the next five years.
There were 68 votes in favour of her nomination by President Joe Biden, and 31 against.
However, Biden’s nomination of Gigi Sohn as a member of the FCC – to bring the regulator up to its normal five members – has run into difficulty after opposition from a number of quarters.
Rosenworcel, the first woman to head the FCC, 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.”
She added: “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.”
Sohn, a lawyer who previously worked with Tom Wheeler when he chaired the FCC, is facing questions by Republicans in the Senate over her past tweets. She apparently called Fox News, controlled by Rupert Murdoch, “dangerous to democracy” as a channel that is “dangerous to democracy”. The Wall Street Journal, also controlled by Murdoch, wrote in an editorial on Monday of her “strange bedfellows” – perhaps a snide comment on her sexuality as well as on her policies.
Both Rosenworcel and Sohn have been long-term advocates of net neutrality, something that was overturned by Pai during the Trump administration. If Sohn, or another Democrat, is sworn in to the FCC, that will give the president’s party the three-two majority to bring about that change. Until then, it’s two to the Democrats – Rosenworcel and Geoffrey Starks – and two to the Republicans, with Brendan Carr and Nathan Simington.
Both Republicans were quick to congratulate the new chairwoman yesterday.
Carr said: “I want to extend my congratulations to Chairwoman Rosenworcel on her confirmation by the Senate to serve another five-year term on the FCC. 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.”
Simington agreed: “Chairwoman Rosenworcel has ably led the Commission for the past year, and during that time we have achieved a number of significant, bipartisan objectives in the public interest. It is my hope and expectation that we will continue this vital work together in the years to come.”