All the seats on the Federal Communications Commission are filled, or at least will be once the U.S. senate confirms two pending nominations. President Donald Trump said he’s appointing Brendan Carr to the last open – and nominally republican – slot on the commission. He’ll be paired up with democrat Jessica Rosenworcel as the senate grinds through its confirmation process.
Carr is an FCC insider. He’s currently general counsel and was a legal aide to current chairman Ajit Pai. His career has been spent entirely within the Beltway, including seven years working for a Washington, D.C. law firm pushing telecoms industry interests at the FCC. There is a difference between lawyers and lobbyists, but it’s a not a particularly significant one in the Washington context.
In other words, Carr is a creature, albeit a minor one, of the Washington swamp that Trump promised to drain. The same might be said of Pai and Rosenworcel, but they also have track records as FCC commissioners and independent thinkers: there’s a case to be made for continuity, too. But Carr’s appointment, to a completely open republican seat, signals that the FCC game will continue to be inside baseball. The immediate assumption is that he’ll spend his time winding the string on Pai’s weed whacker.
Trump still has a couple of FCC appointments to make, although neither are expected to produce any surprises. Pai has to step down at the end of the year unless he’s reappointed and confirmed by the senate, but given the love fest he seems to be having with the president it seems a safe bet that’ll happen. Mignon Clyburn, the other democrat on the commission, just clocked out on her formal term, but, as with Pai, the law allows her to remain on the panel for a couple of years, if she or a replacement aren’t nominated and confirmed.