Cruz Blocks Obama’s Nominee to Chair FCC

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 16: U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks after meeting with Republican senators regarding a bipartisan solution for the pending budget and debt limit impasse at the U.S. Capitol October 16, 2013 in Washington, DC. The Senate announced that it had reached a bipartisan deal on funding the federal government and the extending the nation's debt limit after 16 days of a government shutdown.
National Journal
Dustin Volz
See more stories about...
Dustin Volz
Oct. 17, 2013, 3:36 p.m.

Not long after the Sen­ate ap­proved a budget deal to re­open the gov­ern­ment and ad­dress the debt ceil­ing, Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Re­pub­lic­an who helped en­gin­eer the shut­down, per­formed an­oth­er dis­rupt­ive act.

Cruz blocked the con­firm­a­tion of Tom Wheel­er, Pres­id­ent Obama’s nom­in­ee for chair­man of the Fed­er­al Com­mu­nic­a­tions Com­mis­sion. Mike O’Ri­elly, a Re­pub­lic­an nom­in­ee for FCC com­mis­sion­er, also could not be con­firmed be­cause the two nom­in­a­tions are paired to­geth­er.

The sen­at­or’s of­fice con­firmed that he was hold­ing up Wheel­er’s con­firm­a­tion be­cause he wants ques­tions answered about wheth­er Wheel­er be­lieves the FCC should have the power to re­quire polit­ic­al tele­vi­sion and ra­dio ad­vert­isers to dis­close sources of fund­ing, ac­cord­ing to The Hill. Cruz and some oth­er Re­pub­lic­ans worry Demo­crats want to use their FCC nom­in­ees to im­ple­ment the failed Dis­close Act, which sought to re­quire polit­ic­al groups to re­veal ad­di­tion­al donor in­form­a­tion.

In a state­ment, Sen­ate Com­merce Com­mit­tee Chair­man Jay Rock­e­feller, D-W.Va., said he was “dis­ap­poin­ted” that the nom­in­ees were blocked.

“We need to get the gov­ern­ment func­tion­ing as a whole again,” Rock­e­feller said in a state­ment. “We saw dur­ing the shut­down the dif­fi­culties ex­per­i­enced by fam­il­ies, busi­nesses, and the eco­nom­ies when the ob­struc­tion of a reck­less few pre­vails and causes the lapse of im­port­ant gov­ern­ment ser­vices. If the gov­ern­ment is go­ing to fully func­tion for the Amer­ic­an people, we have to get these highly qual­i­fied nom­in­ees con­firmed now.”

Cruz had made it clear earli­er this year that he might block Wheel­er’s con­firm­a­tion pro­cess if the nom­in­ee did not de­clare in writ­ing wheth­er he thinks the FCC should be per­mit­ted to force dis­clos­ure.

“This is the one is­sue that has, in my opin­ion, the po­ten­tial to de­rail your nom­in­a­tion,” Cruz told Wheel­er dur­ing an oth­er­wise easy June hear­ing be­fore the Com­merce Com­mit­tee. He ad­ded: “There are few if any is­sues that in­spire more pas­sion­ate, par­tis­an di­vi­sions in this body.”

Wheel­er did not give Cruz a dir­ect re­sponse. “This is an is­sue that I look for­ward to learn­ing more about,” he said. “But I do not miss the ex­pres­sions on both sides of this as to the strong feel­ings. I know this is an is­sue of ten­sion.”

At the time of the hear­ing, the pos­sib­il­ity of a single sen­at­or — such as Cruz — hold­ing up Wheel­er’s con­firm­a­tion was floated by ob­serv­ers, but few ex­pec­ted Cruz to fol­low through. Rock­e­feller at the time told Politico that “these things have a way of work­ing out.” Wheel­er was giv­en the go-ahead by the com­mit­tee in Ju­ly.

But the shut­down crisis proved that Cruz is will­ing to act on his tough an­ti­gov­ern­ment rhet­or­ic, and Wheel­er’s nom­in­a­tion may con­tin­ue to be on pause un­til Cruz is sat­is­fied. What Wheel­er needs to do to as­suage Cruz’s fears, however, re­mains to be seen.

Act­ing Chair­wo­man Mignon Cly­burn will con­tin­ue to run the FCC with a 2-1 Demo­crat­ic ma­jor­ity. Two seats re­main va­cant.

What We're Following See More »
WEST WING REDUX
Allison Janney Takes to the Real White House Podium
7 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Carolyn Kaster/AP

STAFF PICKS
When It Comes to Mining Asteroids, Technology Is Only the First Problem
8 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Obama Reflects on His Economic Record
9 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Reagan Families, Allies Lash Out at Will Ferrell
10 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."

Source:
PEAK CONFIDENCE
Clinton No Longer Running Primary Ads
13 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-ex­pec­ted primary battle be­hind her, former Sec­ret­ary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton (D) is no longer go­ing on the air in up­com­ing primary states. “Team Clin­ton hasn’t spent a single cent in … Cali­for­nia, In­di­ana, Ken­tucky, Ore­gon and West Vir­gin­ia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “cam­paign has spent a little more than $1 mil­lion in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone back­er in the Sen­ate, said the can­did­ate should end his pres­id­en­tial cam­paign if he’s los­ing to Hil­lary Clin­ton after the primary sea­son con­cludes in June, break­ing sharply with the can­did­ate who is vow­ing to take his in­sur­gent bid to the party con­ven­tion in Phil­adelphia.”

Source:
×