FCC nominees to go before Senate next week


The open seats at the Federal Communications Commission are one step closer to being officially filled.

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation has announced that the nomination hearing for three FCC commissioners, including the chairman, will be held July 19.

If all nominees are confirmed, the FCC will return to full strength. Its five-member board would have a 3-2 Republican majority, equipping Republican Chairman Ajit Pai with enough support to begin deregulating the telecom industry and execute sweeping changes to issues like net neutrality or programs like E-rate that help deliver broadband access to rural and low-income districts across the country.

These issues came up in the initial questionnaires each nominee completed.

In it, the nominees — Pai, who was designated chairman by President Trump in January but still needs a rubber-stamp vote from the Senate; Republican Brendan Carr, who is currently general counsel of the agency; and Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel, who served as a commissioner at the FCC during the Obama administration — were asked to describe the top three challenges facing the FCC today.

Despite their political differences, all three nominees noted that delivering high-speed internet to all Americans should be a priority for the agency. Here’s what they wrote about the challenge of expanding broadband access in the questionnaires:

Ajit Pai, Chairman, Republican

  • “The internet is increasingly critical in the daily lives of Americans from all walks of life. The commission has an important role to play in ensuring that consumers who want high-speed access to the internet can get it, wherever or whoever they are. I have outlined a proactive agenda along these lines to enable all American to be participants in, rather spectators of, the digital economy.”

Brendan Carr, Commissioner, Republican

  • “One of the key challenges the FCC faces is ensuring that every American has access to broadband. In the five years that I have worked at the FCC, I have had the chance to meet consumers, innovators, and entrepreneurs from across the nation that depend on broadband access for jobs and opportunity. So the FCC must continue to promote policies that will spur broadband deployment and competition throughout the country. Getting this right is important because the connectivity and opportunity broadband deployment enables can harness the talents of all Americans, create good-paying jobs, and help promote our nation’s economic recovery. If confirmed, I would work to ensure that the FCC pursues policies that will promote broadband deployment and competition.”

Jessica Rosenworcel, Commissioner, Democrat

  • “As technologies evolve, it is imperative that all people in this country, no matter who they are or where they live, have access to the communications services that are necessary for 21st century opportunity, safety and economic security.”

During the hearing, which is slated for 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 19, the nominees will likely be pressed further about their support of programs that directly affect school districts in the United States.

Be sure to check back in with EdScoop next week for a recap of what the nominees had to say about innovation and broadband access during the hearing.