Biden to name Rosenworcel FCC chair

Biden to name Rosenworcel FCC chair

26 October 2021 | Natalie Bannerman

Cover

President Joe Biden is due to nominate Jessica Rosenworcel, the acting chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), to serve another term and appoint her as permanent chair.

According to Reuters, two sources have confirmed the rumours, which should it go ahead would make Rosenworcel the first permanent female chair of the FCC following Mignon Clyburn who in 2013 served as acting FCC chair.

Rosenworcel was named as acting FCC chair by Biden in January of this year succeeding Ajit Pai and beating out the likes of Geoffrey Starks and Clyburn. For reasons unknown, Biden has taken more than nine months to name Rosenworcel as the official FCC chair, and once confirmed by the Senate will see Rosenworcel lead the US telecoms regulator.

Earlier this month, former FCC member Mike O’Rielly criticised the Biden administration for failing to confirm Jessica Rosenworcel as chair of the body.

Speaking at a conference on 6G, O’Rielly, who is a Republican, said that in Rosenworcel “you have someone who knows the subject who and makes the agency work”. He said that she “is a friend of mine” but called on the administration to confirm her, expressing his dismay at “someone so capable being set aside”.

In addition, in September 25 Democratic senators signed an urgent letter to President Biden  endorsing Rosenworcel and arguing that any further delay would stall the distribution of $65 billion in funding for broadband as well as the continued distribution of $27 billion in pandemic support aimed at expanding access to the internet for struggling households.

Once confirmed, it is highly likely that Rosenworcel, a vocal opponent of the rolling back of net neutrality rules under the Trump administration, will restore it as a priority. In 2017, she commented that the decision to repeal net neutrality rules was "on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of the law, and the wrong side of the American public."

In addition to the position of chair, Biden must also fill the empty seat on the five-member commission that Rosenworcel left when she assumed the role of acting chairwoman. At present, the commission is divided 2-2 between Democrats and Republicans, meaning that until the role is filled many important voting decisions have been stalled.

According to Politico and Communications Daily, Gigi Sohn – a former senior aide to Tom Wheeler, who served as an FCC chair under President Barack Obama - is due to be nominated by Biden for the open FCC seat.