Rosenworcel back in line for seat on the FCC

5 January 2017 by Steve Blum
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How long will she have to wait this time?

Even with three members of the Federal Communications Commission on stage together at CES in Las Vegas this afternoon, the big news is still coming out of Washington. Jessica Rosenworcel was renominated for another term on the FCC by president Obama yesterday, although it’s by no means certain that her U.S. senate confirmation will fare any better than it did the last time.

Rosenworcel’s first term as one of the designated democratic commissioners timed out at the end of 2016, despite the fact that she had been nominated for a second term in 2015. Senate republicans put her confirmation on ice until after the election. And it stayed there, even once the result was known, because a quick confirmation ran the risk of leaving a democratic majority on the FCC after Donald Trump takes office. Assuming chairman Tom Wheeler resigns after the inauguration, as he has promised to do, that problem has gone away.

The senator to watch is John Thune (R – South Dakota), who chairs the committee that oversees the FCC. According to a story in The Hill, Thune is willing to confirm Rosenworcel, if it’s okay with Trump…

“I publicly supported Commissioner Rosenworcel’s confirmation last Congress, and I continue to appreciate her service,” Thune said. “That said, now that we are just days away from Inauguration, I believe the president-elect deserves to be able to nominate the commissioners he wants to serve.

“I am open to the idea of confirming her later this year, as long as we preserve the new Republican majority on the commission in the process.”

Usually, democratic FCC commissioners are chosen by congressional democrats during republican administrations (and vice versa) and rubber stamped by the president. But there’s just the teeny weeniest possibility that Trump might do something unusual, like withdrawing Rosenworcel’s nomination and picking someone who is both a registered democrat and more in tune with his thinking. Or maybe more in tune with someone else’s thinking. The Verge reported that Trump is asking fellow mogul Rupert Murdoch for advice on who to name to the commission.