Democrats Weigh Tactic to Break Stalemate on President Biden's FTC and FCC Nominees

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Under pressure from progressive activists, Democrats are considering employing a rarely used parliamentary maneuver to push through President Biden’s nominees for the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission. Republicans on the Senate Commerce Committee have so far blocked the nominations of Georgetown University law professor Alvaro Bedoya to the FTC and Gigi Sohn [Senior Fellow and Public Advocate at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society] to the FCC, largely on grounds that they are too partisan. That left both commissions deadlocked with a 2-2 split between Democrats and Republicans, denying agency leaders the majorities they needed to advance the Biden administration’s priorities. In response, Senate Democratic leaders are preparing to use a parliamentary maneuver known as a discharge petition to allow a floor vote on both nominees. A majority vote of the Senate is required to advance the discharge petition and bypass a committee vote. Without Republican support—and so far at the committee level there has been none—that means all 50 Democratic-voting members along with Vice President Kamala Harris must be present to support the petition. The vote for Mr. Bedoya could happen as early as this week, the people familiar said. But the maneuver could be difficult to pull off and could take weeks to accomplish. Democrats also hope to use the parliamentary maneuver to gain a floor vote on Biden’s nominee for the FCC, Ms. Sohn. Progressives view her confirmation as important to a number of FCC priorities, including expanding access to broadband and re-establishing net-neutrality rules, which require internet service providers to treat all internet traffic equally. She also has drawn support from some conservative businesspeople and activists.

Democrats Seek to Break Stalemate on Biden Nominees for FTC and FCC