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 »
ON GUN RIGHTS
Trump Jr. Meeting with GOP Members
6 hours ago
THE LATEST
FLOPPY DISKS
US Nukes Rely on Decades-Old Tech
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS
‘NO BASIS IN LAW’
Eleven States Sue Administration Over Transgender Bathroom Access
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

The great restroom war of 2016 continues apace, as eleven states have sued the Obama administration in federal court, claiming its federal guidance on how schools should accommodate transgender students "has no basis in law." "The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas on behalf of Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin. The lawsuit argues that the federal government has worked to turn workplaces and schools 'into laboratories for a massive social experiment.'"

Source:
NEXT STOP: THE FLOOR
Puerto Rico Debt Bill Passes House Committee
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

By a 29-10 vote, the House Natural Resources Committee today passed the bill to allow Puerto Rico to restructure its $70 billion in debt. The legislation "would establish an oversight board to help the commonwealth restructure its un-payable debt and craft an economic recovery plan."

Source:
WITHIN 15 DAYS OF NOMINATION
Wyden Bill Would Make Nominees’ Tax Disclosures Mandatory
8 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Though every major party nominee since 1976 has released his tax returns while running for president, the practice has never been required by law. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) wants to change that. The senior Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, which handles tax issues, introduced a bill on Wednesday that would force presidential candidates to release their most recent tax returns. The Presidential Tax Transparency Act, as the bill is called, would require candidates to make their latest three years of tax returns public no later than 15 days after becoming the nominee."

Source:
×