Senate confirms Trump nominee for FCC, threatening deadlock under Biden

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The Senate confirmed Nathan Simington as a new Republican member of the Federal Communications Commission, a move that threatens to saddle the nation’s foremost telecom regulator with political deadlock at the start of the Biden administration. The chamber backed Simington on a 49-46 vote, installing a new commissioner at the FCC who has pledged “regulatory stability” and expressed an openness to using the agency’s rule-making powers to explore the way social-media sites handle political speech. Simington’s confirmation comes as the FCC’s GOP chairman, Ajit Pai, is preparing to leave in January. The two staffing moves combined will leave the five-member agency at two Democrats and two Republicans at the start of 2021, curtailing the commission’s ability under President Joe Biden to carry out the party’s telecom agenda as soon as he is inaugurated. The deadlock could slow or stall work on restoring net neutrality rules, which require internet providers to treat all web traffic equally, and other longtime Democratic priorities. Its duration ultimately hinges on party control of the Senate and the outcome of two runoff elections in Georgia. Andrew Jay Schwartzman, senior counselor at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, said a GOP-run Senate would make it difficult for Biden to fill the agency’s fifth slot — allowing Republicans to “tie things up for an extended period of time, perhaps indefinitely."

“I congratulate Nathan on his confirmation by the US Senate and look forward to welcoming him to the Commission," said FCC Chairman Pai. "It has been the greatest honor of my professional life to serve at the FCC, and I am confident that Nathan too will enjoy the challenges and rewards of the job. Nathan was raised in a rural community, and his confirmation ensures that this important perspective will continue to be represented on the Commission for years to come as the FCC continues its work on bridging the digital divide. And with his experience at NTIA and in the private sector, Nathan is well-positioned to hit the ground running. I wish him all the best going forward.”

FCC Commissioner Brenan Carr said, “I want to extend my congratulations to Nathan Simington on his confirmation tonight by the United States Senate to serve on the Federal Communications Commission. Nathan will bring a wealth of private and public sector experience to the Commission, including having served most recently as Senior Advisor in the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Once he is sworn in, I look forward to working together with him and my other colleagues on the Commission on common sense policies that will advance the public interest.”

​FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel: "I congratulate Nathan Simington on his confirmation. I welcome him to the Federal Communications Commission. Serving the American people is a great honor. I look forward to working with him as we take on our nation’s most pressing digital age communications challenges."

“Congratulations to Nathan Simington on his confirmation to the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC’s policies are critical to our shared future and I look forward to working with him in the days ahead,” said FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks.


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