Senate Commerce Approves Wheeler Nomination

Author: John Eggerton
Coverage Type: reporting
Senate Commerce Committee, Constitution Avenue and 1st Street, NE Russell Senate Office Building - 253, Washington, DC, 20002, United States

The Senate Commerce Committee approved the nomination of Tom Wheeler to be chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, but not without some drama with one senator threatening to delay Wheeler's final confirmation.

Senate Republicans would have preferred that the committee delay a vote on Wheeler until the White House had nominated a Republican to replace Robert McDowell, a point ranking member John Thune (R-SD) made at the hearing. Thune said he would support Wheeler's nomination, but would prefer that the committee have delayed its vote and was "better served" by pairing Wheeler with the other nominees, whom he said he expected the White House to name "soon." He said that any delay in the committee vote could be offset by swift floor action. He pointed out that while former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's nomination came two and a half months before McDowell’s renomination, they were voted on in committee as a pair on the same day and got full-Senate confirmation just a week later. It has become custom, though not a rule, that the committee pair votes on FCC nominees, but Chairman Jay Rockefeller said that was not happening on his committee.

Sen Ted Cruz (R-TX) said he had not gotten a sufficient answer from Wheeler on the issue of whether the FCC could use its authority to what he and other Republicans would consider an end-run around Congress by boosting political ad disclosures, something Congress has failed to do with the yet-to-pass DISCLOSE Act. Sen Cruz did not use the H word (“hold”), but did mention Wheeler had failed to answer the question three times. "If he continues to refuse to answer that question, I may well support using procedural means to delay this nomination until he answers the very reasonable question that has been posed," Sen Cruz said.


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