FCC Nominations Slated for Wednesday Senate Committee Hearing

Nominations for Chair Jessica Rosenworcel and new Commissioner Gigi Sohn are up for consideration before the Senate Commerce Committee. Their approval would bring the FCC to a 3-2 Democratic majority.

11/29/2021 2:00 PM

2.5 minute read

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation will meet in executive session Wednesday to continue review of President Joe Biden’s two nominations for the Federal Communications Commission: Jessica Rosenworcel, who is nominated for chair, and Gigi Sohn, who is nominated for commissioner.

The committee, led by U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., will also consider the nomination of Alvaro Bedoya to serve on the Federal Trade Commission. Bedoya was nominated in place of Rohit Chopra after he started his term as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Rosenworcel has served as acting chair of the FCC since the resignation of Chair Ajit Pai in January, and she has served on the commission since 2012.

Enforcement of illegal robocalls has been among the priorities for Rosenworcel in her time on the FCC. In meeting with Rosenworcel and other members of the FCC, ACA International has focused on modernization of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and ensuring the accounts receivable management industry can continue to reach consumers while also protecting consumers from illegal calls. In December 2020, ACA and joint industry trade groups met with Rosenworcel’s staff on call blocking and labeling protections, detailed in an earlier letter here.

ACA also submitted a letter for the committee’s Dec. 1 hearing outlining the implications for call restrictions for consumers and businesses.

“As Congress reviews the nominations of the FCC commissioners, we ask that it consider this important issue with implications for the ARM industry,” said ACA CEO Mark Neeb in the letter. “When there are opaque rules or when the FCC does not narrowly tailor efforts to bad actors, consumers pay the price when they do not receive the information they want and need from legitimate callers.”

The Senate Commerce Committee also held a nomination hearing with Rosenworcel on Nov. 17, during which the members discussed “fast tracking” her nomination to the U.S. Senate.

“I think communications technologies today are the infrastructure of opportunity. These are the connections—physical and digital—that can strengthen our mutual bonds,” Rosenworcel said in her Nov. 17 testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee. “They can grow our economy and create new jobs. They help us work, learn, be informed, enlightened, and entertained. And we also need these connections to break down barriers that for too long have held too many back.”

Commissioner Nomination

Biden nominated Gigi Sohn to serve in one of the Democrat commissioner seats.

If Sohn is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, the FCC will have a 3-2 Democratic majority. Geoffrey Starks serves in the remaining Democrat seat on the commission.

Sohn is currently a distinguished fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy and a Benton Senior Fellow and Public Advocate. Sohn also previously served as counselor to former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler from 2013-2016.

Republican Commissioner Brendan Carr was confirmed by the Senate to serve a five-year term starting in 2019. In August 2020, President Donald Trump revoked his nomination for Republican Michael O’Rielly to serve another term after a dust-up about proposals for the regulation of social media.

Nathan Simington was confirmed to serve in one of the Republican seats on the FCC in 2020.

The Senate Commerce Committee hearing is at 10:15 EDT Wednesday, Dec. 1, and can be viewed on the committee’s website.

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