Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said on Tuesday he hopes to move forward with confirmation hearings on the newly nominated Federal Communications Commission members within a week’s time.
“It ought to be real quick,” he told National Journal.
On Monday, President Obama nominated Rockefeller’s senior communications counsel, Jessica Rosenworcel, to fill a Democratic seat on the FCC and Ajit Pai, a former commission aide, to fill a Republican seat.
In a sharply divided Senate, nominations can often turn into bargaining chips. To ease their confirmation FCC commissioners are often nominated in bipartisan pairs.
When Obama nominated Democrat Julius Genachowski as FCC chairman and renominated GOP commissioner Robert McDowell for a second term in 2009, McDowell cleared the Commerce Committee with a unanimous vote and Genachowski passed 24-1.
In a statement earlier on Tuesday, Rockefeller praised Rosenworcel as an “undisputed communications law expert” who has earned the respect of Democrats, Republicans, industry, and consumer advocates.
“Jessica will be an effective advocate by working to close the digital divide and bring expanded access to all Americans in this 21st-century communications age,” he said.
If confirmed, Rosenworcel will fill a vacancy left by departing commissioner Michael Copps, who plans to leave by the end of the year. Pai will move into a position vacated by GOP commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker, who left the commission earlier this year to work for Comcast.
"In nominating Jessica Rosenworcel and Ajit Pai as FCC commissioners, President Obama made two outstanding choices for the commission and for the American people,” Genachowski said in a statement. “Given their talent, leadership, and expertise in our space, they would both play an invaluable role at the FCC."
Industry groups and major telecom companies also welcomed the pair’s selection.
“They have a wealth of experience in Washington, knowledge of communications issues, and thoughtfulness that will be great additions to the commission,” said Steve Largent, president of CTIA-The Wireless Association.
The incoming commissioners could be deciding votes on issues ranging from the proposed AT&T merger with T-Mobile to reforming a fund used to expand telephone lines for use in broadband development.
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